Gunshots and heavy weapons fire erupted between rival factions in Ivory Coast’s army at military bases in its second largest city, Bouake, residents and soldiers said.
Bouake was the epicentre of several months of army mutinies last year that spread to cities and towns across Ivory Coast, forcing government to cave in to demands for bonus payments and promotions.
“I‘m hearing intense shooting from machineguns,” said Bouake resident Georges Kouame. “There are also explosions from heavy weapons.”
The outbreak of violence follows days of tensions in Bouake between participants in last year’s mutinies and members of an elite military unit, known as the CCDO. At least one person died in the wake of clashes there on Friday.
Former mutineers told Reuters they believed CCDO members were sent to spy on them.
“At the moment we are surrounding the CCDO camp and there is an exchange of gunfire,” said a mutineer leader. “They must leave the city or we will force them to leave.”
A regional security source, who asked not to be named, said government earlier dispatched around 200 soldiers to reinforce positions in Bouake.