Ivory Coast: September 27, 2002

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: French troops evacuated more than 1,200 westerners from the Ivory Coast town of Bouake on 26 August: more than 60 percent were French or other Europeans, US and Lebanese citizens About 600 of the town's 1,000 expatriates were French. The remainder came from other African nations or had double citizenship. The French ERC 90 F4 six-wheeled armored cars apparently convinced the Ivory Coast mutineers to behave, since their 350-vehicle convoy mission was uneventful. Further evacuations were scheduled on the morning of the 27th, for any other people wishing to leave Bouake. But with most of the foreigners safely out of town of 500,000, the general feeling among the remaining civilians is that there will be a bloodbath. 

After heavy fighting on the 25th, correspondents found more than 100 bodies in the town's morgue. There was no fighting on the 26th, but several thousand excited demonstrators took to the streets of Bouake to demonstrate support for the rebels. The mutineers were seizing territory between Korhogo and the Mail border (to the northwest), capturing hearts and minds with their good treatment of civilians.

But the population realizes that the Ivory Coast's government can finally launch their counteroffensive against the mutineers. Three Nigerian "Alpha Jet" fighters were flown into Yamoussoukro, even as President Laurent Gbagbo tried to convince his neighbors that the foreign mercenaries backing the rebels had heavy weapons. Meanwhile, unemployed youths have been recruited to join the original force of 400 mutineers. They are paid the equivalent of $7 a day, but where the rebels get the money remains a mystery. - Adam Geibel


 

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