AFRICA/CÔTE D' IVOIRE - Guere and Dioula tribes fight in west Côte d'Ivoire, at least 14 dead

Monday, 2 May 2005

Abidjan (Fides Service) - Situation still uncertain in the west Côte d'Ivoire region of Duekoue, where at least 14 people have been killed and many more injured in tribal fighting over the past few days. “It is difficult to have a clear picture, first of all because the area is remote and isolated. For some months the telephone service has been sporadic and the presence of militia makes movement dangerous” local Church sources told Fides.
The fighting is between Guere and the Dioula, the second group a mainly Muslim people from north of Côte d'Ivoire and other neighbouring countries. Clashes started on 30 April following a strike in Duekoue by mainly Dioula shopkeepers and lorry drivers to protest against insecurity on the roads in the region. In fact various groups of militia operate in this area. Most of them are from Liberia which only recently came out of civil war 1999-2003.
The strike caused malcontent among the Guere and some Guere shopkeepers refused to join the strike. Ensuing social strife degenerated into ethnic violence. “When a person offends another person of a different tribe, this is enough to cause a tribal fight” the sources told Fides. “Given the lack of local government because of civil war in 2002, the tribe is the only point of reference for people left at the mercy of militia without scruples”.
“To prevent these episodes everyone must be disarmed. Almost all the militia groups operating here in the west are political movements turned bandits and they extort money and food from the people” the local sources conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 2/5/2005 righe 26 parole 300)