Massacre in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Abidjan – “The two factions are denying responsibility for the massacre at the market. Gbagbo’s online newspapers even accuse Ouattara’s ‘Burkinabé mercenaries’ of being responsible for the tragedy,” says a source for Fides from the Church in Abidjan, where yesterday in the neighbourhood of Abobo, bullets from heavy artillery were showered on an outdoor market, causing 25 to 30 deaths. According to UNOCI (the UN force in Côte d’Ivoire), the shots were fired by forces loyal to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo. The UN says it was a crime against humanity.
“The presence of Burkinabé mercenaries in Ouattara’s camp has not yet been verified by independent sources, but this accusation by Gbagbo is evidence of the break in relations between Gbagbo and the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré,” says the Fides source, who for security reasons prefers to remain anonymous. “The latter, having sponsored the agreements in Ouagadougou in 2007, was involved in the round of negotiations sponsored by the African Union to resolve the Ivorian crisis, triggered by Gbagbo’s refusal to recognise Ouattara’s victory in the second round of presidential elections in November 2010. As we all recall, in late February a delegation from the African Union went to Abidjan to meet with the protagonists in the crisis. Blaise Compaoré, who was part of the group of mediators, decided at the last minute not to travel to Côte d’Ivoire, officially for security reasons,” continues our source.
The situation is alarming, because while the rebels seem to advance closer to Ouattara to take over the district of Cocody, which houses many important buildings, Gbagbo is deploying militia groups to create roadblocks in the quarters of his supporters. According to UNOCI sources, there are defections in the security forces, who until now had remained loyal to Gbagbo, and whose morale is low because wages have not been paid. According to UNOCI, at least 100 soldiers have deserted and have become refugees in Liberia. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 18/3/2011)