Ivory Coast: September 25, 2002

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The United States' European Command dispatched 200 Special Forces troops to the Ivory Coast on 24 September, joining 600 French troops already in the country. The Americans' mission is to safeguard 100 American schoolchildren trapped in Bouake. Ranging from 5-year-olds to 12-year-olds, the young Americans are among 200 foreigners holed up at the boarding school for missionaries' children. There are a total of 2,000 American citizens in the Ivory Coast.

Heavy gunfire had splashed the International Christian Academy in Bouake since the mutiny began, more from errant rounds than deliberate targeting. Gunfights broke out again on the 24th, with identically-dressed troops so chaotically engaged that observers could make no sense of the fighting. - Adam Geibel

The French, who have several hundred troops nearby, are reluctant to move on Bouake for fear of being drawn into the fighting. The rebels are soldiers part of a battalion recruited years ago by a now-deposed dictator and their loyalty to anyone else was always suspect. The government attempt to disband the battalion, and the reaction of the troops, seems to prove those suspicions. The American Special Forces have sent a small advance party into Ivory Coast, with the rest of the troops staying in Ghana. It is thought the main reason for the American troops being their is to motivate the French to rescue the kids.

 

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