Ivory Coast militia killed 220 in southwest: Govt

The western Ivory Coast was a hotbed of violence in the post-polls dispute.

Updated: May 15, 2011, 11:54 AM IST

Abidjan: Militia and mercenaries loyal to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo killed 220 people while fleeing through the southwest of the country, a spokesman for President Alassane Ouattara said on Saturday.

After being chased out of their stronghold in the main city Abidjan on May 4, the fleeing Gbagbo forces committed "atrocities in the southwest of our country," said Patrick Achi.

As they went towards the Liberian border "these killers without faith or law set about people, women, men, children, that they came across," he said.

The violence left "a macabre total of 220 people killed and 17 injured," he added.

A defence ministry spokesman on May 9 gave a toll of 120 people.

The attacks occurred in the towns of Irobo, Grand Lahou, Fresco and in the Sassandra region, the ministry said earlier in a communique.

Most of the victims were targeted for their ethnicity, the statement said.

"The last fighters loyal to the ex-president Laurent Gbagbo were Liberian mercenaries and Ivorian militia," the statement said, adding: "It was they who took the large community of Yopougon (in Abidjan) hostage."

Yopougon, an area in the west of Ivory Coast`s economic capital, became the last bastion for pro-Gbagbo forces after his arrest on April 11.

Separately, a United Nations spokesman said Monday that UN workers found 68 bodies in 10 graves in Yopougon, which fell to Ouattara`s forces last week after heavy fighting.

A months-long conflict pitted Ouattara and Gbagbo after Ouattara was declared the winner of a presidential election in November but Gbagbo refused to leave office. More than 1,000 people died in the unrest, according to UN figures.

The western Ivory Coast bordering Liberia was a hotbed of violence in the post-election dispute.

Tens of thousands of Ivorians fled into Liberia, raising fears that the unrest could spill over into the neighbouring country which itself emerged in 2003 from 14 years of civil conflict that cost 250,000 lives.

Bureau Report