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Soldiers, Police Open Fire as Cote d’Ivoire Unrest Continues

, Alexis Adele Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (AP) — Hooded soldiers cruised through the streets of Cote d’Ivoire's capital, Yamoussoukro, on Tuesday firing their weapons in the air, and military police in multiple cities opened fire, witnesses said. The violence suggested the government had failed to end unrest that began Jan. 6 when some soldiers mutinied over low pay.

Both the soldiers and military police were demanding hefty bonuses similar to those the government agreed to give the mutineers last week, according to an expert on the Ivorian army who was in contact with the soldiers.

The mutiny that began in the country's second-largest city, Bouake, was staged by former rebels who backed President Alassane Ouattara in a 2011 postelection conflict that claimed more than 3,000 lives. Among the mutineers' demands were bonuses of nearly $20,000 for more than 8,000 fighters.

On Friday, the mutineers said the government had agreed to pay them, and at least some soldiers in Bouake began receiving bank transfers Monday and Tuesday. The government has said only that a deal was reached, declining to confirm specifics.

The violence in Yamoussoukro began Monday night when soldiers raided an armory at a training academy, according to the expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to describe his conversations with the soldiers.

He said those soldiers were also former rebels but that they were not included in the deal reached Friday.

The soldiers' initial gunfire in Yamoussoukro lasted about 20 minutes, said resident Charly Bagnon. "There were shots, and now the traders have gone. They've closed up their shops in the city center," Bagnon said.

In Bouake, meanwhile, soldiers encircled a military police post after policemen fired their weapons, said a military police official who insisted on anonymity becuase he was not authorized to speak to the press.

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