Ivory Coast: July 16, 2003

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About 2,000 armed men (both former government and rebel fighters) are still at large in western Ivory Coast, preying on the civilian population and preventing relief agencies from freely delivering supplies in the lawless region close to the Liberian border. These armed Ivorian civilians, Liberian refugees and mercenaries were seldom if ever paid, but turned to looting towns and villages on both sides of the frontline. The raids were often accented by rapes and slaughters.

French and West African peacekeepers had set up a Zone Of Confidence in the west, but failed to disarm these gunmen and many simply moved further south into the Tai national park. This has forced about 30,000 refugees down to the port of Tabou, south of the Tai national park. 

Meanwhile, at least half a dozen pro-government, anti-French militias that have sprung up in southern Ivory Coast consider the current cease fire just a lull before the real war starts and are now training in the open (although without showing real weapons). - Adam Geibel 

 

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