Ivory Coast conflict: 800 killed in one town on one day; France takes over airport


(Forces loyal to Ivorian presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara prepare to head to the frontline in the capital Abidjan, April 2, 2011. Soldiers of Ivory Coast's rival leaders battled for the presidential palace, military bases and state TV in the main city Abidjan on Saturday, in a conflict becoming so brutal that it killed 800 people in one town alone. Advancing soldiers backing Alassane Ouattara, who U.N.-certified results show won a Nov. 28 presidential election, met stiff resistance from fighters remaining loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down. Image: REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun)

The Red Cross reports that as many as 800 people may have been killed in a single town on a single day in Ivory Coast, in "intercommunal violence" resulting from ongoing political turmoil. (Reuters).

Good, comprehensive resources on this story at Global Voices.

France, in cooperation with the UN, has just today taken over the country's main airport to evacuate foreigners: 12,000 French citizens live in the west African nation. Al Jazeera reports that state television in Cote D'Ivoire is accusing France of "preparing a Rwandan genocide".

The international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), has been active in the region for years. Here is their latest update:

Many wounded people suffering from gunshot or machete wounds have arrived in hospitals in the western towns of Danané, Man, and Bangolo. MSF surgical teams in Bangolo are supporting the hospital there.

"The number of new casualties is extremely disturbing and indicates that violence continues in the area," said Renzo Fricke, MSF emergency manager. "Intercommunal tensions are extremely high."

On April 1, 20 injured people requiring surgery were transported to the hospital in Bangolo, where ten people were still waiting to be operated on today.
Access to care is threatened because the ongoing tensions and violence in the area have forced thousands of people to flee from several localities in the west. Many have fled from the town of Blolequin to Zouian-Hounien. Meanwhile, more than 15,000 displaced persons remain within the confines of the Catholic mission in the western town of Duekoue.

More: "Alarming numbers of new wounded in west Ivory Coast" (MSF)

Al Jazeera has this background piece on the political forces behind the conflict.