Just a little over one year after 3,000 people were killed during political violence unrest in Ivory Coast, the country is experiencing more attacks against military forces. The gunmen, who have yet to be identified, attacked troops twice last week when they attacked checkpoints close to the Liberian border and security posts and a prison west of Abidjan, according to the Associated Press.
Six soldiers were killed on August 6 when gunmen attacked a military base in Abidjan. They also stole weapons that included AK-47 rifles and propelled grenades. In just under two weeks six attacks have occurred in Ivory Coast. A total of 12 people have been killed, 11 of them soldiers.
The new attacks have been blamed on the supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo by Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko. Also being blamed for the attacks are that many former fighters still have their weapons, which is taking longer to complete than expected. There is another program in operation that is attempting to disarm civilians, of which only a couple thousands weapons have been turned in to the government. Laetitia Dia Allou, a spokeswoman for the program, said that 3 million weapons are circulating across the country.
“State representatives may be so adamant that pro-Gbagbo forces are behind the attacks because they know or suspect that some of their own former supporters are also involved,” said Joseph Hellweg, an Ivory Coast expert from Florida State University.
The country is polarized by one-sided justice, according to the Human Rights Watch group. “A politicized judiciary has been at the heart of the Ivorian crisis for the last decade, undermining the rule of law and contributing to the country’s deep divisions,” said Matt Wells, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. “By sending the message that certain victim groups are less worthy of justice for post-election crimes, the one-sided prosecutions under the Ouattara government threaten to further this dangerous legacy of division.”
One resident in Abidjan, Alex Ouraga, lives close to the military base that was attacked. “It shouldn’t be easy for all kinds of people just to go to a military base, especially if the military base had the country’s arms,” he said. “This place should be secured every second. But it was easy for people to go inside, take arms and get away.”
Just last week, the United Nations said that 100 people were arrested for suspicion of involvement in the attacks. Close to 32 of those arrested were released because of a lack of evidence.