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Soldiers Mutiny in 3 Ivory Coast Cities

FILE - Ivory Coast troops provide security during an election rally of Ivory Coast incumbent President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Soldiers in Ivory Coast launched mutinies in three cities on Friday in a bid for higher pay.

Witnesses say gunfire erupted around 1:00 a.m. local time in Bouake, the country's second-largest city. VOA’s French to Africa service reports that soldiers looted weapons from local police stations and took control of the northern and southern entrances to the city.

Similar mutinies broke out in the towns of Korhogo and Daloa.

In a communique, the Ivorian Defense Ministry said officers in Bouake have entered into discussions with the soldiers.

It said the soldiers are demanding a salary increase, bonuses, and a reduction of time necessary to achieve higher pay grades.

The ministry said it has put Ivorian troops on alert and reinforced security around military installations.

The statement said all soldiers are asked to "remain calm and to return to their bases in order to allow the search for durable solutions for all members of the armed forces."

The soldiers are former rebels who were integrated into Ivory Coast's army after the country's civil war. Bouake was the former capital of the rebellion, which split the country into northern and southern halves between 2002 and 2011.

The country has been stable over the past five years, and conducted peaceful parliamentary elections in December in which the coalition of President Alassane Ouattara retained control of the National Assembly.

Narita Namaste, a reporter for VOA's French to Africa service, contributed to this story from Abidjan.