Military unrest, gunfire paralyze city areas in Ivory Coast


They are everywhere. There is heavy gunfire.

This is why many Abidjan residents have stayed at home, fearful of getting caught in any gunfire.

The government has said it will not negotiate with the disgruntled soldiers.

"To end the stalemate and avoid any more bereavement of families, the army chief of staff held talks with the soldiers", he said, adding that the meeting had resulted in "an arrangement".

In a statement on Sunday, Gen Touré said that numerous mutinous soldiers had listened to earlier calls for them to stand down.

Most of the large column of troops spotted on Sunday evening appeared to have withdrawn, suggesting any government operation was not yet fully under way.

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The mutineers blocked roads outside a barracks in an affluent neighbourhood of Abidjan, the commercial capital, a BBC reporter in the city says. Shooting in both cities intensified before dawn.

Shots were also heard from Gallieni camp in the city centre. "It's calmed a bit but we're still hearing gunfire", said one Bouaké resident. Local residents and truck drivers also confirmed the closure.

Ivory Coast has been touted as a post-war success story after emerging from a 2002-2011 political crisis as one of the world's fastest growing economies.

The soldiers were to be paid bonuses of 12m CFA francs ($19,950) each, with an initial payment of 5m francs that month.

The issue triggered a wave of mutinies that has exposed the lack of unity in a military assembled from former rebel and loyalist combatants.

And let's go to West Africa now and Ivory Coast.

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"All businesses are closed here in Daloa". The soldiers are in the streets on foot and on motorbikes.

Shooting was also reported in Bouake, erstwhile headquarters of the rebellion in Ivory Coast. "But we want 7m to be paid in one payment and immediately", Sergeant Seydou Kone, one of the spokesmen, told Reuters news agency.

"We consequently call upon all soldiers to clear the entry points into cities and return to their barracks".

Ivory Coast has an army of around 22,000, but falling cocoa prices have severely crimped the government's finances.

They first launched a munity in January and forced the government to pay them about $8,000 (£6,200) each in bonuses which they said was owed to them. This was rejected by other soldiers, sparking the revolt.

Last month, the government revised its 2017 budget as it faces lower income from cocoa, its main export crop, limiting its ability to pay soldiers.

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