News / Africa

Abidjan Tense After Soldiers' Killings

The entrance to an army base camp that was the scene of recent fighting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, August 6, 2012.The entrance to an army base camp that was the scene of recent fighting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, August 6, 2012.
x
The entrance to an army base camp that was the scene of recent fighting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, August 6, 2012.
The entrance to an army base camp that was the scene of recent fighting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, August 6, 2012.
Nancy Palus
DAKAR — There is new tension on the streets of Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan. Armed men killed at least 11 soldiers in recent days, with a new attack occurring Tuesday night in the nearby city of Agboville. It is unclear who is carrying out the attacks.  

Whether it was supporters of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo or disgruntled soldiers, the incidents follow killings in the volatile west and raise questions about the country's stability. Abidjan residents said the fresh violence has once again injected fear and uncertainty in their lives.

Yusuf and Bacar were among the few people in the streets of Abidjan on Tuesday, which was a holiday to observe 52 years of Ivory Coast’s independence. They talked about the recent attacks in which armed men killed at least 11 soldiers at a police station and an army base.

“It’s total confusion,” is a common refrain. Yusuf put forth one of the widely-held speculations - that the assailants are disgruntled combatants who want compensation for helping to bring Alassane Ouattara to power.
 
Another prominent theory is that the attacks were carried out by supporters of ex-leader Laurent Gbagbo, who is currently awaiting trial in the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

Ivorian Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko, in an interview with Radio France International, accused pro-Gbagbo militants for the crimes, saying they want to disturb public morale and discourage investors.
 
Both explanations are plausible, pointing to the challenges the country still faces, including a security sector sorely in need of reform and a pro-Gbagbo portion of the population angry about the fate of their leader.
 
For residents of Abidjan, the new unrest means a heightened sense of insecurity and a reminder of recent violence.
 
Awa works in a food shop in Abidjan. She and her family live in the Yopougon neighborhood, near the police station that was attacked last weekend. "We are not safe at all. My mother is in poor health and she’s now traumatized by all this," she said.

She added that on the day of the attack she came out of her house at 6 a.m. to go to work and saw the body of a soldier on the ground.

In the violence after the 2010 presidential election, a lot of Ivorians saw a lot of bodies. For one Abidjan resident, who did not want his name used, the recurrent violence might have some unfortunate lasting effects.

He said people who have lived through war, seeing bodies everywhere - unfortunately now they might just be numb to the violence.

The armed men who carried out the recent attacks - including the latest on Tuesday night - are still at large. Government spokeman Bruno Nabagné Koné said Tuesday that authorities are taking every measure possible to assure the people’s security. He said Ivory Coast and the Ouattara government will not be sidetracked by the violence.

For François Joseph Triffé, a trader and marketer in Abidjan, it will be important to carry out an investigation that is free of the deep divisions that still prevail in the country.

He said, "it’s only natural that those in power will blame the opposition. No government will admit that such trouble could come from its ranks - that’s fair enough."

But, he said, the important thing is to get to the bottom of things and come forth with solid proof.

The killings in and around Abidjan follow deadly clashes in Duékoué, western Ivory Coast, which has long been a hotbed of tensions between Gbagbo supporters and backers of President Ouattara.

After the Independence Day break, Wednesday is the first “official” day back to work in Abidjan. People appeared to be carrying out their activities as normal, determined not to be cowed by the unrest but were well aware of the potential for more violence.
 
Reporter Marc-Andre' Boisvert in Abidjan contributed to this report

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs