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Ivory Coast Rebels Say Leader Killed in Ambush Near Liberia - 2003-04-28


Rebels in Ivory Coast say the leader of one of their three factions has been killed in an ambush in the west of the country. The rebels are blaming fighters from Sierra Leone who oppose a peace plan to end the seven-month civil war.

Officials from the main Ivorian rebel group, the Patriotic Movement for Ivory Coast, say the body of Felix Doh has been found near the town of Danane, close to the border with Liberia.

Mr. Doh was the leader of the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Far West.

A statement issued by the main rebel group said he was leading operations to disarm dissident fighters from Liberia and Sierra Leone late last week, when he was wounded, captured, and executed. At first, other rebel officials said he had disappeared.

Rebel spokesman Sidiki Konate said it is too early to tell who will become the new leader of the western-based rebel faction.

The spokesman said rebels will continue in their efforts to rid western Ivory Coast of foreign fighters.

Mr. Doh, who was in his late 30s, was one of three Ivorian rebel leaders to sign a peace agreement in France this year. The power sharing deal is being slowly implemented, but is being hampered by continued fighting in the west.

The rebels are blaming Sam Bockarie, a former leader of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front, for the death of Mr. Doh. They say fighters under his command have been on a looting rampage and want the war to continue. The Revolutionary United Front, which has been backed by Liberia, was involved in a murderous civil war during the 1990s in Sierra Leone.

Tuesday, military leaders from Liberia and Ivory Coast are meeting in Abidjan to discuss setting up a joint force to secure western Ivory Coast. This follows an agreement Saturday in Togo between Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his Liberian counterpart, Charles Taylor.

Thousands of Liberians who fled the civil war in their own country are returning to Liberia, despite ongoing fighting there as well.

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