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Shots heard from inside military camp in I.Coast’s Abidjan

FILE PHOTO Ivory coast troops

Abidjan, Ivory Coast | AFP |

Shooting was heard late Friday from inside the main military camp in Abidjan, Ivory’s Coast’s economic capital, witnesses said Friday, days after a brief mutiny by the armed forces.

“There were shots, bursts of gunfire coming from the barracks. It stopped and started again,” Mathilde Kouadio, a teacher living nearby, told AFP.

The gunfire coincided with tense talks in Ivory Coast’s second city of Bouake between the defence minister and rebellious troops.

The revolt, which lasted two days, saw soldiers seize Bouake, firing shots in the air and terrifying residents, while demanding bonuses, better pay and houses.

The protests spread to other cities, including Abidjan.

A deal to end the mutiny was struck on Sunday, led on the government side by Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi, who was briefly held by the mutineers.

The following day, Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara ordered major changes in the top security ranks — the armed forces’ chief of staff, the senior commander of the national gendarmerie and the director-general of the police.

Talks on implementing the agreement began in Bouake on Friday, again with Donwahi, but tension was high.

Rebel troops took up positions on the roads into the town, and on two occasions fired into the air to disperse demonstrators who protested against their behaviour.

Bouake, which is home to 1.5 million people, was the cradle of a rebellion which erupted in 2002 in a failed attempt to oust then president Laurent Gbagbo.

The revolt sliced the former French colony into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south and triggered years of unrest.

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