Ivory Coast: September 27, 2003

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French peacekeepers deployed to secure the commercial center of rebel-held Bouake, after a three-day long shootout resulted in at least 23 dead and at least 37 wounded. Initially, the French were unsure if the clashes were between individuals or organized militia groups. 

The fighting started when a stampede broke out in a branch of the West African Central Bank and security forces tried to secure the premises. The bank had failed to move an unusually large sum of money out of the Bouake branch (despite repeated requests) and rebel forces were stuck guarding it. 

Earlier reports claimed that there were at least 25, mostly civilian deaths, of people who were trying to grab money when the fighting broke out. A medical official contradicted this, claiming that all of the dead and wounded were all soldiers hit by bullets. 

There are 5,300 French and West African peacekeeping troops deployed to keep the two sides apart. The French defense minister noted that this incident would prompt forces on the ground to consider the usefulness of extending the mandate of their peacekeeping forces. - Adam Geibel

 

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