Behind the Ivory Coast Massacre: Obama-Supported Opposition Forces Slaughter Hundreds in Duékoué
Hundreds of Christians were slaughtered this week outside the Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duékoué, Ivory Coast. Rebel troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara were behind the massacre. The attackers seem to have been largely soldiers descended from Burkina Faso immigrant Muslim families loyal to Ouattara. They moved into Duékoué last week and murdered hundreds of civilians in the street.
IRIN reported more on the violence:
Residents of Duékoué said the killings on 30 March were a “settling of scores” facilitated by the capture of the town by pro-Ouattara forces.
Ouattara has denied his forces are responsible for the deaths of over 800 civilians, but the internationally recognized president is facing tough questions from human rights groups, the UN and several of the governments that rapidly endorsed him after the November 2010 election against incumbent Gbagbo.
The Ouattara camp says the charges are unfounded and malicious and that the worst of the violence in Duékoué was carried out by pro-Gbagbo forces. However, Ouattara has promised an investigation and said he welcomed an international inquiry.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic arrived in Côte d’Ivoire this week to look at the situation in the west.
Duékoué was one of several towns to fall in recent days to pro-Ouattara troops now calling themselves the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI).
According to reports by the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies at least 800 people were killed in the Duékoué fighting. While details are sketchy, most victims appear to have been from the local Guéré community, traditionally Gbagbo supporters.
Some Duékoué residents contacted by IRIN blamed the killings on farmers living in encampments outside Duékoué – on land they have worked for decades – whom the Guéré have sought to oust since Gbagbo’s arrival in power.
Gbagbo sought to annul land leases to Burkinabé, Baoulé and other groups working the coffee and cocoa plantations, in favour of previous Guéré owners and their descendants. “These killings were a settling of scores,” one Guéré man said. “People came and killed the [mainly Wobé and Guéré] landowners.” Residents said people came to the town after the FRCI, armed primarily with hunting rifles and machetes.
The man, who preferred anonymity, said pro-Ouattara forces must account for the incident. “Truly, we do not understand. Someone with the FRCI must explain to us why, just after they came through, these killings happened.”
Most of the killings reportedly were in the Carréfour neighbourhood – known as a base for pro-Gbagbo militia. Residents said the militia had fled and innocent civilians were left behind. “[Groups who work the land] are taking advantage of the presence of the FRCI to eliminate as many [locals] as possible in order to control the land,” said one of the thousands of residents who have sought refuge at the Catholic mission in Duékoué.
Residents said all homes in Carréfour were burned and homes in other neighbourhoods pillaged.
Residents of Duékoué said two days after the killings the new FRCI authorities sent a griot – a traditional West African poet, musician and storyteller – through the town calling for calm, urging people to return to their normal activities and stressing the town was now secure. But the griot also passed on strong warnings: “Anyone found armed but not belonging to the FRCI will be disarmed. Anyone caught stealing will be killed, without exception.”
The Malinke people of West Africa are mostly Muslim.
The Obama Administration supports the Quattara opposition.