Ivory Coast: December 5, 2002

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Ivorian loyalist troops supported by mercenaries attacked the rebel-held border town of Toulepleu on 4 December. Neither side has shown an advantage in this battle yet.

Recent rebel attacks in the west had forced 30 Ivorian government soldiers to flee over the Liberia border and seek safety. All were were turned over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and repatriated. Responding to Ivorian government and news wire reports, Liberia's Information Minister admitted that while it is possible that mercenaries from his country might be involved in the conflict, his government does not sanction them. Over 9,000 Liberian nationals had also fled the fighting and crossed the Liberia border, while another 1,900 civilians had crossed into Guinea on 30 November - 1 December.

The Ivory Coast's two new rebel groups - the Movement for Peace and Justice (MPJ) and the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West (MPIGO)- now say they want to join forces with the main rebel group, the Patriotic Movement of the Ivory Coast (MPCI.) A MPCI spokesman said that while they had not been contacted directly, the merger of the two new groups would strengthen the MPCI's negotiating hand in peace talks.

Meanwhile, French troops escorted another 27 foreign civilians out of Touba and moved them to safety in Daloa by late afternoon on 4 December, after a 12-hour, 190 mile trip. There had been no incidents with rebel forces on this mission. - Adam Geibel


 

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