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Operation under way to 're-establish order' in Ivory Coast: army chief

15 May 2017
Operation under way to 're-establish order' in Ivory Coast: army chief

The mutiny by former rebels in the Ivory Coast has entered its second day with the mutinous soldiers blocking access to the country's second largest city, Bouake as gunfire rang out in other towns on Saturday. "The mutineers aren't letting people leave their homes to demonstrate", said a resident who requested anonymity.

Six people, including a mother of three, were wounded when renegade soldiers in Ivory Coast opened fire at a protest against an army mutiny in Bouake, according to witnesses. "As a result, a military operation is under way to re-establish order". But some of the soldiers criticized the agreement and said they were not informed of it in advance. "We control the entrances to the city and we can close them whenever we want".

The uprising by the soldiers, a lot of them ex-rebel fighters who fought to bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, began in Bouake on Friday before quickly spreading to other cities and towns, mirroring an uprising by the same group in January.

The representative for the group, whose name was given only as Sergeant Fofana, apologized on behalf of the soldiers during a meeting with President Alassane Ouattara in the commercial capital Abidjan.

Military Chief of Staff General Sekou Toure warned the soldiers there would be "severe disciplinary sanctions" if they don't end the revolt.

In response, elite Republican Guard troops in Abidjan fired warning shots that pushed the mutineers back the inside the military headquarters compound in Abidjan, Reuters reports.

Numerous soldiers were outraged after a spokesman for the soldiers announced on Thursday they would abandon demands for the remaining bonus.

Bouake was the epicentre of the mutiny in January by the former rebel soldiers who had been integrated into the army. The decision was rejected by at least some of the soldiers.

They were also taking up positions elsewhere in the city and continuing to fire sporadically into the air, and banks and stores remained closed Saturday morning.

Ivory Coast emerged from a 2002-2011 conflict with one of the world's fastest-growing economies. But deep divisions persist, particularly in a military assembled from former rebel and loyalist fighters.

Disgruntled Ivorian soldiers took to the streets of Abidjan and two other cities on Friday, firing angrily into the air a day after publicly apologising for a string of recent uprisings. Similar protests have been reported from cities of Korhogo, in the north and in Daloa, a trading hub in central Ivory Coast.