An armed conflict has plagued Ivory Coast for several years
Heavily armed men attacked two military barracks in Ivory
Coast's economic capital Abidjan on Monday, setting off a
battle with security forces that officials say killed 10
Gunfire and heavy explosions shook the military barracks at
Akuedo, located in northeastern Abidjan, for about an hour
before a tense calm returned to the area.
General Phillipe Mangou, chief of the armed forces, went on
state television afterward to reassure residents, saying
military forces had repulsed the attack.
Colonel Hilaire Gohourou Babri, an army spokesman, said seven
of the attackers and three members of the security forces
were killed in the battle.
Babri said dozens of the attackers had been arrested. He
ruled out rumours that there had been a mutiny, but there was
still no word on who carried out the assault, the first since
a new national unity government took office last week to help
steer the country towards delayed elections due later this
Ivory Coast has been split between a rebel-held north and a
loyalist south since a failed coup in 2002 sparked days of
fighting in Abidjan.
Mangou called on residents living near Akuedo to remain
indoors while security forces conducted a search for the
assailants, some of whom he said had fled in civilian
"I wanted to reassure the population and tell them the
situation is under control," Mangou said. "Our elements
effectively control Camp Akuedo."
Elsewhere in the city, paramilitary police set up roadblocks
and tanks were deployed around the national television
The latest violence was sure to raise tensions in the
country, which has been on edge since Laurent Gbagbo, the
president, cancelled elections planned for October, blaming
the war and rebels' failure to disarm.
The United Nations and the African Union later endorsed a
year's extension of Gbagbo's five-year mandate, against the
protests of rebels and opposition leaders.
Last week, a new 32-member national-unity government composed
of rebel, opposition and ruling-party ministers took office.
A new prime minister, Charles Konan Banny, was chosen by the
warring sides to arrange the new cabinet.
Guillaume Soro, a rebel leader, was named minister of
reconstruction, while Gbagbo loyalists and foes were among
the new ministers.
Later in the day, Gbagbo toured the two military barracks.
About 10,000 peacekeepers - both French and United Nations
forces - are deployed in the country.