Cote d Ivoire:3 soldiers killed amid mutiny

A mutinous soldier gestures as he stands guard at the checkpoint of the entrance of Bouake, Ivory Coast

Three soldiers have been killed as a fresh round of infighting erupts in a barracks in Ivory Coast.

A military officer said on Saturday that the soldiers were killed in a shooting that began overnight in a barracks at Korhogo, a city in the north of Ivory Coast.

“There are three dead soldiers,” said the officer without elaborating. Other sources in the area said three bodies in military fatigues and with gunshot wounds had been taken to a local morgue.

Residents in the capital Abidjan reported similar gunfire in a former UN base near the city. They said the shooting lasted from about 1:30 a.m. to after 3:00 a.m.

“We were all very scared. We don’t know what’s going on,” said a resident. Local sources said calm was restored in the area on Saturday morning.

For months, Ivory Coast’s army has been battered by tension and infighting. Elements within the military have staged mutinies to demand promised bonuses. A payoff of 12,000 CFA francs (18,000 euros) per head was eventually agreed by the government in May, five months after the revolt started.

Most of the mutineers are former rebel soldiers who were incorporated into the country’s armed forces after the end of a decade-long civil war in 2011. There are also about 6,000 “demobilized” rebels who have not been integrated into the military and have been pressing for similar demands on bonuses.

Ivory Coast, a former French colony in West Africa, mostly relies on export of cocoa to finance its budget and falling prices has badly affected government coffers. That comes as security forces have become tougher in dealing with the tension in the armed forces. Two former rebel leaders were jailed on Tuesday for obstructing a road in the central city of Bouake.

By Jean Song

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