(UPDATED & BUMPED)
At least 1,000 Christians were slaughtered this week in at the Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekoue, Ivory Coast by Muslim troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara. The state-run media has been slow to report the story.
The conflict in Ivory Coast began in 2002. The country is divided between the Muslim north and Christian south.
This is a conflict that has been brewing for years.
Troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the Muslim opposition leader, moved south this past week. They slaughtered 1,000 civilians in Duekoue last week. The victims were mostly men who were shot as they fled the city.
Business Week reported:
Charity workers who reached Duekoue said it appeared the killings had taken place in a single day, shortly after the town fell to troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the man internationally-recognised as having won last year’s presidential election.
The apparent massacre came despite the presence of United Nations troops and – if confirmed – will cast a shadow over Mr Outtara’s assumption of the Ivory Coast’s presidency after a four-month battle to oust Lawrence Gbagbo, the former president who lost the November election but refused to step down.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “gravely concerned” by the violence and loss of life in Ivory Coast and added: “I am determined that all alleged human rights abuses… must be investigated and those responsible held to account…
…The International Committee for the Red Cross said its staff discovered more than 800 bodies of people who were clearly local civilians. They were mainly men who had been shot and left where they fell, the organisation said, either alone or in small groups dotted around the town, which lies at the heart of Ivory Coast’s economically crucial cocoa producing region.
The charity said it had been told by locals that intercommunal violence erupted soon after Mr Ouattara’s forces took control of the town on Monday. Thousands of people left their homes to escape the fighting and an estimated 40,000 sought refuge in a nearby Roman Catholic mission’s compound. The priests who operate it are running short of food, clean water and medical equipment to treat those they say arrived with gunshot wounds.
The bodies are thought to be of those who did not reach sanctuary in time. They were killed despite 200 United Nations troops operating what it said were “robust” patrols from its base on the outskirts to protect civilians in and around the church.
Caritas reported that the massacre took place in the ‘Carrefour’ quarter of town, controlled by pro-Ouattara forces, during clashes on Sunday 27 March to Tuesday 29 March.
30,000 civilians are trapped in a Catholic church compound.
On Tuesday two towns in the west, Daloa and Duekoue, fell to Mr Ouattara’s supporters after fierce gun battles.
The fighting trapped 30,000 people in a church compound in Duekoue, missionaries said. Many reportedly had gunshot wounds but could not reach hospitals on the other side of the front line.
Mr Ouattara’s supporters also captured Bondoukou in the east and were said to be advancing unimpeded south along the Ghanaian border towards Agnibilekrou. Mr Gbagbo’s camp confirmed that they had retreated, but vowed to fight back.
UPDATE: Atlas has been predicting this.
UPDATE: The Muslim troops slaughtered several hundred Catholics at at the sprawling Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekou.
Herald Scotland reported:
A massacre in a Roman Catholic mission compound in the heart of the Ivory Coast’s cocoa-producing region could come to be seen as a crucial moment in the West African state’s escalating civil war.
Reports are mounting of atrocities by both sides in the conflict − those loyal to head of state Laurent Gbagbo, besieged in his presidential residence in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, and those who follow northern leader and president-elect Allasane Ouattara.
Events at the Italian Salesian Roman Catholic mission in Duekoue increasingly echo a notorious church massacre during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Early reports suggested that more than 800 people, largely from the Gbagbo-supporting Gueré tribe, were killed in a single day at the sprawling Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekoue, 300 miles west of Abidjan towards the Liberian border. The attackers seem to have been largely soldiers descended from Burkina Faso immigrant Muslim families loyal to Ouattara.
Late yesterday the Roman Catholic charity Caritas said more than 1000 people were massacred in Duekoue. A Caritas spokesman said Caritas workers visited the town and reported seeing a neighbourhood filled with bodies of people who had been shot and hacked to death with machetes.
More at Libertarian Republican.