Ivory Coast: December 11, 2002


: Villagers in the Ivory Coast's western region said the recent massacre started when six trucks with military markings arrived on 27 November, carrying uniformed soldiers. Accusing villagers of feeding rebels, soldiers went house to house with a list of names rounding up cocoa and coffee field workers. Over 27-28 November, the soldiers shot some victims on the spot and gathered others for execution. The locals estimate 120 people were killed.

Another mass grave was discovered in Bouak, nearly 180 miles north of the commercial capital Abidjan, containing 86 bodies from the beginning of the revolt. The rebels had attacked the 3rd Gendarme Battalion's barrack and various police posts. Other civilians saw the rebels arbitrarily killing those who "took sides" at their roadblocks.

On 8 December, the government called for nearly 3,000 men between the ages of 20 and 26 in mostly pro-government Abidjan to volunteer for the army at their headquarters on the 10th. What good these untrained volunteers can do is debatable, since an Ivorian newspaper pointed out that there were too many aging soldiers holding noncommissioned rank and even went so far as to question whether they were up to the job. The Defense Minister has also admitted that only those units in the field are actually armed.

By 9 December, life was slowly returning to normal in Man. Loyalist troops were roaming the streets and local Red Cross representatives estimated that there were 150 bodies in the streets. However, other towns in the West were reportedly falling to various rebel factions. 

Diplomacy is failing: on the 9th, the main rebel group threatened to abandon peace talks while Togo's president, Gnassingbe Eyadema, traveled to the Ivory Coast to meet President Gbagbo. On 6 December, Liberian President Charles Taylor urged that an African task force by immediately deployed in the Ivory Coast. - Adam Geibel


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