Ivory Coast: September 20, 2002

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The body of Ivory Coast's former military ruler General Robert Guei, accused of being behind an army uprising in the west African country, was found dead in a road near a large hospital in Abidjan. Defense Minister Moise Lida Kouassi told the press on 19 September that he believed Guei had been killed in an abortive coup attempt that started at around 03.00, when "about 280 soldiers" descended on Abidjan and more on towns in Bouake and Korhogo. Mortar and automatic weapons fire started in a district where the country's military police have a base, and spread to other parts of the city. Gunfire also broke out in the northern city of Khorogo, a stronghold of Ivory Coast's opposition. Armed youths in civilian clothes were reported to be roaming the streets. 

Up to 800 disgruntled troops staged the attacks, to protest their pending demobilization. Those involved were wearing a mix of street clothes and military dress, so it was not clear which branch of the security forces they belonged to (if any). After about five hours of fighting, at least 10 people had been killed and dozens wounded. By the 20th, fighting was still taking place in several places. Death toll appears to be about a hundred, with somewhat more wounded.

A former French colony and the world's top cocoa producer, Ivory Coast was once regarded as a haven of peace and stability, until Guei staged the 1999 coup that toppled President Henri Konan Bedie. - Adam Geibel 


 

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