Ivory Coast: 29 bodies found in new mass grave

Last Updated: Sunday, May 8, 2011 - 19:10

Abidjan: A new mass grave containing 29 bodies has been found in a restive suburb of Ivory Coast`s commercial capital, said a resident who said the victims were killed in the aftermath of a political standoff that plunged the country into violence.

UN investigators had said they were investigating the reports of a new mass grave.

Yopougon resident Brahima Bakayoko said late Saturday that militants loyal to arrested strongman Laurent Gbagbo swept through the neighborhood amid celebrations over Gbagbo`s April 11 arrest.

He said the militants targeted members of two ethnic groups that supported democratically elected President Alassane Ouattara, the Dioula and the Baoule.

"Here, they killed two youths of the Baoule and they forced us to bury them in the same tomb," he said, adding that he counted 29 bodies in the grave.

An Associated Press reporter visited the site late Saturday and spoke to other residents who said their family members were killed. They did not give their names.

The UN human rights office in Geneva announced Friday that their investigators were headed to a soccer field in Yopougon believed to be the site of a new mass grave.

"We are told that there is a vast field that is used to play soccer. It is now an open-air cemetery," said Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Ivory Coast.

Yopougon had voted in large numbers for Gbagbo. His militias are believed to have taken cover in Yopougon, and the neighborhood was the scene of pitched battles until Thursday, when Ouattara`s military spokesman announced that the area had been brought under control.

Toure said it was not known if the dead were killed by Gbagbo`s forces, or if they were Gbagbo supporters slain in reprisal killings by forces loyal to Ouattara. Human rights groups have detailed massacres by the forces backing Ouattara, who swept the country coming in from the north, east and west.

Judicial officials began questioning Gbagbo on Saturday over human rights abuses committed while he was in power.

Gbagbo`s refusal to cede power after losing a November poll sent the West African nation into a spiral of violence. More than a 1,000 civilians were killed, first by the army controlled by Gbagbo and later by a former rebel group allied with Ouattara that seized control of the country and toppled Gbagbo.

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, May 8, 2011 - 19:10

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