Wednesday, 1 October 2003

Abidjan (Fides Service) – Fresh outbreak of fighting in central Bouake. “It is impossible to say what is happening - local Fides sources say – it is too dangerous even to go out of the house. What is certain is that an unusual tension has risen in the city in the past few days.” In the meantime more factors have emerged regarding the recent bank robbery at the local branch of the West African central bank (BCEAO) which led to a gun battle of various armed bands. Word of the robbery spread and the thieves trying to escape with the money found themselves confronted with angry crowds. In a desperate attempt to calm the people the criminals threw bank notes in the air but in the ensuing chaos armed men among the crowd opened fire and a shooting battle followed.
“This is our country today. A no man’s land ruled by bandits” a local Missionary tells Fides. “The country has been cut clean in two. It is impossible to travel from Bouake to areas under government control and vice versa. I am certain that an intervention by France, which has a large contingent in Ivory Coast, would stabilise the situation immediately. Many Ivorians are convinced that the rebellion was instigated by France in order to weaken President Gbagbo whose economic policies go against the interests of French multi-national companies. I wonder, if this is true, how can the interests of a few companies, be put before those of 16 million people in Ivory Coast whose life has been totally disrupted by a year of civil war and the cutting in two of the country” LM (Fides Service 1/10/2003 EM lines 24 Words: 301)