Ivory Coast gendarmes repel raid


Gendarmes in Ivory Coast fought off an overnight attack on a base north of Abidjan, a security spokesman said as thousands arrived in the country for an international sports and cultural event.

The attack in the town Azaguie came days after gunmen struck the base of an elite security unit in Abidjan stealing weapons and killing one person.
“The brigade was attacked during the night and this morning in Azaguie,” a gendarmerie spokesman said. “There were no victims, only an exchange of gunfire and after the assailants left again.”

He said the aim appeared to be to steal weapons, as it was in the earlier attack in Abidjan, but the raiders had been unsuccessful: “We’ve taken steps in the past few days and there are no weapons stocks in our brigades.”

The raids follow months of uprisings by members of the security forces demanding bonus payments, prompting President Alassane Ouattara to reshuffle top security posts in his government.

Ouattara, sworn in following a 2011 civil war, is eager to stop mutinies that have tarnished Ivory Coast’s image as a post-conflict success story.

In Abidjan the gunmen, some wearing military uniforms, succeeded in seizing rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and communications equipment as well as crates of ammunition, some of which was later recovered.

A senior army officer, who asked not to be named, said orders were given to all security services to relocate weapons stores to make them less vulnerable to raids.

The Jeux de la Francophonie, a 10-day event expected to involve some 3,000 athletes and artists from around the French-speaking world, opened in Abidjan on Friday.

Ouattara’s government is hoping the games, held every four years, will provide an international showcase for Ivory Coast’s revival following more than a decade of political turmoil and war.