Deadly clashes in ICoast ahead of international games

Abidjan (AFP) –


Fresh violence in Ivory Coast left one member of the security forces dead as gunmen attacked a police training school just hours before the start of an international sports tournament.

It was just the latest in a series of clashes between government forces and disgruntled soldiers, some of them former rebels, and came just before the start on Friday of the Jeux de la Francophonie (French speakers' games).

Gunmen attacked the National Police Academy in the central district of Cocody, in the economic capital Abidjan, said Hamed Bakayako the newly appointed defence minister.

They were clearly trying to seize weapons at the base, added Bakayako, previously the country's interior minister.

One member of the security forces was killed in a subsequent exchange of fire in the working-class district of Yopougon, according to a statement from the army's operations centre.

The clashes, which happened overnight Wednesday, were just the latest incident in six months of intermittent unrest due to tensions within the country's armed forces.

Last weekend three soldiers died during an exchange of fire at a military camp in the northern city of Korhogo.

The former French colony suffered a decade-long civil war, splitting the country in two.

Thousands of the rebels were incorporated into the army after President Laurent Gbagbo was ousted in 2011 by Alassane Ouattara.

But there was a string of revolts between January and May as disgruntled soldiers demanded a promised bonus. They eventually received a payoff of 12,000 CFA francs (18,000 euros) per head from the state.

There are also 6,000 "demobilised" rebels who have not been integrated into the military, and they too are demanding a bonus.

The Francophonie games are the first major international event organised in Ivory Coast since the end of the civil war.

They will gather 4,000 athletes and artists from 53 countries in Abidjan, the economic capital of the country.

Games' director Dadouda Sanogo said the recent incidents would have "no impact"in the international event.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, paramilitary gendarmes and police officers have been mobilised to ensure security at the games.