Saturday, 5 March 2011
Abidjan, Ivory Coast - At least 6 women on peaceful women's march calling for killing to stop are gunned down
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ABIDJAN— 03.03.2011 - While the world is transfixed on the popular revolts in the Middle East, Ivory Coast's descent toward civil war has slid below the radar.
Here, an African strongman clings to power and his forces have killed hundreds. Desperate inhabitants have turned to a new tactic in Abidjan: strength in weakness. Daily women’s marches have been held in neighbourhoods across the city, with slogans that don't support either man claiming to be president. The women simply called for the killing to stop.
Their call went unheard and at least six women were killed Thursday when incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo’s Republican Guard opened fire.
“We started by telling the Republican Guard to stop invading our neighbourhoods, to stop killing our sons, to stop turning our homes into a war zone,” said one marcher who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. “We never thought they would fire on us. Have they no shame?”
...Tribal differences have been exploited by a merciless propaganda machine on state television. Youths have been handed AK-47s and have been encouraged to erect barricades to stop and search all comers. Banks have been shut, gas is running out and water and electricity have been cut to more than half of the country.
What started as a simmering conflict between two men has turned into a vicious battle for power that is only surprising insofar as it hasn't already exploded into civil war.
The crisis began to boil over last week when police officers started turning up dead. Months of street clashes between armed security forces loyal Mr. Gbagbo and protesters supporting Mr. Ouattara had been taking a toll.
The United Nations said just under 300 people had died at that point, and Human Rights Watch put out a report documenting dozens of targeted executions of Mr. Ouattara’s supporters.
Suddenly, armed men, known simply as the “invisible commandos” decided to fight back.
After infiltrating the crowd, the invisible commandos ambushed the police and claim to have killed 27 as well as seizing their arms and vehicles.
Since then, truckloads of troops have been heading north into the pro-Ouattara neighbourhood of Abobo daily. The explosions and automatic gunfire can go on for days at a time. Whenever it stops, terrified civilians line the roads out of town with belongings on their heads and babies on their backs.
The UN says that more than 200,000 people have fled Abobo, and as many as 76 have been killed there since the fighting started.
Reports have surfaced in recent days that truckloads of AK-47s have been distributed to pro-Gbagbo youth in slums around the commercial capital. These armed teenagers have started manning hundreds of improvised barricades.
“The most likely scenario is an armed conflict involving massive violence against civilians that could provoke unilateral military intervention by neighbours,” said Gilles Yabi, a West African analyst with the International Crisis Group.
Posted by sysiphus at 18:01