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After Surprise Announcement, Gunfire Erupts Once More In Ivory Coast

After Surprise Announcement, Gunfire Erupts Once More In Ivory Coast

Another Abidjan resident said mutinying soldiers came out of the country's largest military camp and erected barricades, blocking traffic along one of the main thoroughfares in the east of the city.

The mutiny was the latest in a series of armed protests which have gripped the country since January, with troops angered by an unresolved dispute over wages and demanding the government of President Alassane Ouattara pay up.

Banks, offices and department stores closed their doors in the heart of the economic capital, Abidjan, as gunfire erupted in San Pedro, the second biggest port in the world's top cocoa-producing nation.

Former rebel soldiers mutinied in Bouake on Friday to demand the payment of bonuses.

Sustained gunfire was also heard in the second-largest city of Bouake, where one person died on Sunday from bullet wounds sustained in clashes between the former rebels, some of whom have now been integrated into the army, and those who have disarmed but are not integrated.

But two spokesmen for the mutineers confirmed the government's proposal had been rejected.

The 8,400 mutineers, majority former rebels who said they were promised bonuses for fighting to bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, received 5m CFA francs (£6,500) each to end the January uprising. Residents said they heard shots being exchanged from early in the morning, describing the gunfire as intense.

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"They proposed 5 million CFA francs ($8,356) to be paid tomorrow (to each soldier)".

Ivory Coast has launched a military operation to take back Bouake, where at least one civilian was killed Sunday and reports say more than 20 others were hurt when they ignored warnings from the mutinous soldiers to stay in their homes.

Then in a surprise move on Thursday, a spokesman for the former rebels apologised on national television and agreed to drop their demands for the remaining money.

Sergeant Seydou Kone, a spokesman for the mutineers, said the ex-fighters, who went through a disarmament programme following the country's 2011 civil war, were planning their own protest, as they did early this week, and his men had opened fire to stop them.

"We just want our money. But we can't give up now that we've reached this point".

Several schools near the camp did not open and the Abidjan-based African Development Bank [AFDB.UL], which employs several thousand people - many of them worldwide staff - told its employees to stay home.


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