Ivory Coast: October 28, 2003


"Freelancing" has struck the rebel-held north as well, when a convoy of 10 pick-up trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles full of armed men tried unsuccessfully to break into a branch of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) in the northern rebel-held town of Korhogo. The forces of two local rebel commanders fought them off, after an intense late-night gunfight. However, no one was killed in the exchange of fire and local people jeered as the attackers drove off.

Korhogo is close to the town of Ouangolodougou, near the border with Mali and Burkina Faso. The attackers were rebel fighters loyal to an unnamed warlord who was currently outside the Ivory Coast. 

On the same day before dawn, intruders broke into the Man BCEAO branch (580 km northwest of Abidjan and also in rebel-controlled territory), opened a 
safe and stole computer equipment. It was not yet clear whether any money was missing, but the bank raid was followed by an outbreak of shooting later 
that morning. The gunman calmed down during that day, as over 100 French peacekeeping troops were dispatched to restore order in the city.

Originally the headquarters of MPIGO (the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West), Man has been plagued for the last several months by sporadic fighting between rival rebel factions. A senior Patriotic Movement of Cote d'Ivoire (MPCI) commander claimed that he had seen no evidence of any break-in at the local bank and that the shooting had simply been the result of clashes between rival rebel factions in the town.

These bank jobs are similar to the assault on the Bouake BCEAO branch on September 25. As much as $83 million in CFA banknotes was stolen and 23 people 
killed in that crime. - Adam Geibel


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