Security Advisory: Ivory Coast (6 January 2017)January 6, 2017 in Ivory Coast
Heavy weapons heard fired on 6 January 2017 near Cote Ivoire’s largest military camp in the city of Bouake. Sources have reported that at least two police stations have been attacked. Gunfire initially erupted overnight as demobilized soldiers seized weapons from police stations and took up positions at entry points into the city. Sporadic shooting continued into the late morning. Reports have also indicated gunfire heard at a military base in the western town of Daloa, in a sign that the uprising may be spreading. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that soldiers are reportedly also on the streets of the main town in the north, Korhogo.
Military sources have disclosed that demobilized soldiers, mainly former rebels from the decade-long conflict, broke into police stations across the city of Bouake, looting weapons before taking up positions at entry points into the city. According to a solider, “it’s a mutiny by former fighters integrated into the army who are demanding bonuses of 5 million CFA francs (US $8,000) each plus a house.” Another army officer has reported, “the city is under the control of former (soldiers) who fired shots around 2 AM (0200 GMT) while taking arms from the city’s police stations.” It has been reported that the demobilized soldiers are stationed at the north and south entrances to the city and that the second in command at the main military base in the city has been taken hostage by the ex-soldiers. Bouake was at the centre of the rebellion to oust former president Laurent Gbagbo.
Shootings were also reported mid-morning at a military base in Daloa, the main trading hub in Cote Ivoire’s western cocoa belt. Residents there have reported that demobilized soldiers were behind the unrest. While currently there is no clear link between the events in Bouake and the outbreak of shooting at a military base in Daloa, this could be a sign that the uprising is spreading.
Residents in both towns remained home on Friday and businesses were closed as a helicopter from Cote Ivoire’s UN peacekeeping mission patrolled above the city.
Unconfirmed reports have indicated that soldiers are reportedly also on the streets of the main town in the north, Korhogo.
UPDATE – The UN Camp Director at Bouake reported in the afternoon of 6 January that the situation is now at a negotiation stage. It is believed that the former rebels are not targeting civilians or expats.
The unrest comes just weeks after the country held parliamentary elections, which had been viewed as a further step towards cementing stability in the West African country.
Increasingly across the region when there has been an incident of magnitude it masks bandit and militant attempts to kidnap expatriates elsewhere in the country. We saw this in January 2016 when major attacks in Ouagadougou occurred and an Australian couple in another part of Burkina Faso was seized. There have been similar incidents across the region. Expatriates in unaffected parts of Cote d’Ivoire need to redouble personal security measures and be alert to hostile reconnaissance to deter any kidnap attempts by other parties in this stressful period.
MS Risk advises all to:
- Avoid built up areas of Bouake and Daloa for the time being
- If personnel are in these areas establish communications and account for all staff
- Maintain a low profile – stay off the streets and shelter in place
- Take stock of potable water, food and other stores and assess
- Ensure a communications plan is in place
- Get any 4 x 4 vehicles off the road and into covered storage – they will be attractive for militia or bandits to seize
- Liaise with relevant authorities and diplomatic missions as necessary
- Report any news or fresh developments to firstname.lastname@example.org