The head of the Ivory Coast military says security has been restored in the main city Abidjan after several hours of intense early morning gunfire at several military bases. Dissident soldiers tell VOA they will pursue their protest action later, but that for now they are suspending their operations.

The head of the Ivorian military, Philippe Mangou, said his forces were back in control of camps in the Riviera District, near the U.S embassy, after several hours of gunfire.

State television also showed images of alleged attackers, many of them with beards, looking like disaffected civilians, their hands bound. Some of them were held in a ditch.

Mr. Mangou accused foreign radios of intoxication for saying the unrest might have been caused by mutinous soldiers.

He said soldiers are well paid, and well taken care of, and that they would never stage an attack.

But one soldier, who now calls himself Commander Albert, says he is leading about 3,000 renegade soldiers.

Commander Albert says they are asking for back pay of about $2,000, owed to them for fighting against northern rebels since 2002. He says they have nothing to do with rebels, but that Liberian mercenaries and youth groups close to President Laurent Gbagbo are treated much better than soldiers.

Commander Albert also told VOA the attack was staged in the new year because he said in his words "enough is enough, and it is time Ivorian soldiers get some respect".

Commander Albert says one renegade soldier was killed, while military officials gave higher numbers of casualties, but none of this could be confirmed independently. There were also reports that several civilians died in cross-fire.

The unrest comes just days after a new national unity government was formed to help disarm northern rebels and prepare delayed elections before October 2006.