Media Blog

The Other African Revolution

The Guardian reports from the Ivory Coast:

Militiamen loyal to Ivory Coast’s incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo massacred 37 west African immigrants, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday, the latest in a series of xenophobic atrocities.

The killings took place in Bedi-Gouzan, in the west, a day after combatants loyal to Gbago’s rival and internationally recognised Ivory Coast president, Alassane Ouattara, captured the nearby town of Blolequin, the watchdog found.

“Witnesses in Ivory Coast told Human Rights Watch that armed men, some in uniform and others in civilian clothes, massacred the villagers, presumed to be Ouattara supporters, possibly in retaliation for the capture of nearby areas by pro-Ouattara forces,” its report said.

Many of the attackers, who spoke English, appeared to be Liberian, while the majority of victims were immigrants from Mali and Burkina Faso.

At least four cars carrying pro-Gbagbo militiamen attacked the village, witnesses said. They were armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and machetes.

The witnesses said the militiamen killed the immigrants inside their homes and as they attempted to flee. They pillaged and burned houses, looting any items of value, including motorcycles, money, televisions, mattresses and clothing.

A 28-year-old Malian man told Human Rights Watch: “At around 3pm we heard the sound of heavy trucks coming and ran into our houses. The men fired into the air, then started breaking down the doors‚ saying: ‘Fire, fire’ and ‘You’re rebels, we’ll kill all of you’.

“We heard shots, and screams. They were killing people; my family and I were cowering in our home. After breaking down my door they screamed that I should give them money or they’d kill me. I gave them all I had – 84,000 CFA, and the keys to three motorcycles. I begged them not to kill me. I was terrified‚ but it saved my life. The commander said: ‘If it wasn’t for this money, you’d be dead.’”

The man added: “But not everyone had money‚ they killed a Burkinabé man in front of me‚ and later in a nearby house, I saw them kill five women‚ just a few metres away. They screamed: ‘Give us money!’ The women pleaded, saying they didn’t have any, then they shot them: three inside the house, two just outside.

The rest here.

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