New mass graves found in Ivory Coast



ROBBIE COREY-BOULET | AP

Published — Wednesday 7 November 2012

Last update 7 November 2012 12:47 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast: Up to 10 new mass graves have been discovered near the site of a July attack on a camp for displaced people, officials said Tuesday, amid allegations that initial casualty totals were downplayed to mask killings carried out by the national army.
Rights groups claim summary executions were carried out by the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, known by its French acronym of FRCI. Last month, officials found six bodies in a well close to the former campsite in the western town of Duekoue.
Government, army and UN officials toured 10 more graves in the same area on Saturday, said Paul Mondouho, vice-mayor of Duekoue. He said the graves had first been identified by civilians, and that officials did not know the number of bodies they contained because they had not yet been properly exhumed.
“People were suspecting the presence of bodies in these graves because of the smell coming out of them and because of the shoes we saw nearby,” Mondouho said.
Prosecutor Noel Dje Enrike Yahau, who is based in the commercial capital of Abidjan, confirmed that multiple new graves had been discovered but could not provide details. UN officials and the local prosecutor in charge of investigating the suspected killings could not be reached Tuesday.
UN spokeswoman Sylvie van den Wildenberg confirmed that UN forces helped Ivorian authorities secure a perimeter around 10 wells “similar to the one in which six bodies were found,” and that “some of those wells are suspected mass graves.”
She stressed that Ivorian authorities were leading the investigation but that the UN was able to provide assistance.
Army spokesmen could not be reached Tuesday. The Justice Ministry has previously vowed to investigate the discovery of the initial grave.
On the morning of July 20, a mob descended on the UN-guarded Nahibly camp, which housed 4,500 people displaced by violence in Ivory Coast, burning most of the camp to the ground. Officials said at the time that six people were killed.
The attack was prompted by the shooting deaths of four men and one woman on the night of July 19, according to local officials and residents. In response a mob of some 300 people overran the camp on the morning of July 20 after the perpetrators of the shootings reportedly fled there.
The victims in the July 19 attack lived in a district dominated by the Malinke ethnic group, which largely supported President Alassane Ouattara in the disputed November 2010 election. The camp primarily housed members of the Guere ethnic group, which largely supported former President Laurent Gbagbo.
Gbagbo’s refusal to cede office despite losing the election to Ouattara sparked months of violence that claimed at least 3,000 lives.
Albert Koenders, the top UN envoy to Ivory Coast, said one week after the attack that UN security forces had been inside and outside the camp at the time but that no Ivorian security forces were present. He said the UN forces decided not to fire at a large group of people that were attacking the camp in order to avoid “a massacre.”
Several witnesses have said soldiers and traditional hunters, known as dozos, participated in the attack on the camp. Both military and dozo leaders have denied the claims, saying they had tried to protect the camp.
In a statement released Friday, the International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym of FIDH, said it had information — including the preliminary results of autopsies — confirming that the six bodies found in October were men who had been summarily executed by the army.
“The disappearance of dozens of displaced persons after the attack, as well as confirmation of cases of summary and extra-judicial executions, suggest a much higher victim rate than the official figures report,” said the organization, which counts Ivorian civil society groups among its members.
Duekoue was one of the hardest-hit towns during the post-election violence. The UN has established that at least 505 people were killed in and around the town, including during a notorious March 2011 massacre that claimed hundreds of lives and was allegedly carried out by fighters loyal to Ouattara.
Duekoue residents belonging to ethnic groups that supported Gbagbo have long complained about abuses carried out by the FRCI, with some pointing to the direct involvement of the local commander, Kone Daouda. FIDH said in its statement that Daouda had been transferred following the discovery of the grave in October, and called for him to be interrogated over the matter.
The group also said two FRCI members were being “actively sought” after failing to return to their barracks on Oct. 16, noting that they are believed to have fled to neighboring Burkina Faso.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN Abdullah Al- Muallami unveiled a beautifully framed old kiswa (covering) of the door of the Holy Kaaba at one of the newly refurbished halls of the world body. The...
A policeman was shot dead by an unknown gunman in Qatif in the Eastern Province on Tuesday night.According to a spokesman of the Eastern Province police, the firing took place at 11:30 p.m. in a suburb called Al-Jishi.The targeted police officer was...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Show, one of the many events of Jeddah Summer Festival 36, is attracting a large number of visitors. The sound-and-light show is being run at the Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center.The show tells the story of the Bri...
JEDDAH: The Riyadh Traffic Department carried out extensive campaigns on the main streets, intersections and squares in the city to boost traffic safety levels and discourage bad driving.During the first 72 hours of the campaign, traffic personnel re...
RIYADH: One of two women infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) died here in Riyadh, while the other patient is being treated at a hospital in Al-Kharj, some 60 km from the capital. Since June 2012, the Ministry of...
AL-AHSA: Approximately 20,000 tons of Al-Ahsa dates are planned to be marketed abroad during the new dates season.Muhammad Ismail, director general of the King Abdullah City for Dates (KACD), said: “The authorities in the city are planning to increas...
JEDDAH: Al-Bagdadiya neighborhood residents in Jeddah are living in a state of worry because of 20 abandoned houses, which serve as hideouts for criminals.Residents said some houses are on the verge of collapse and have turned into shelters for crimi...
JEDDAH: A committee consisting of representatives from the Hail governorate, municipality, health department and the Saudi Food and Drugs Administration (SFDA) has ordered the closure of a restaurant in the city’s industrial area.Twelve people suffer...
The board of the Saudia Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization has announced that mandatory application of the regulations on new tires produced or sold in the Kingdom will commence in November this year.The board explained that the technical...
JEDDAH: The number of people with mental health issues or depression is increasing in Saudi Arabia due to urbanization, marital or relationship problems, and not being able to keep up with rapid progress. A Saudi mother said that her daughter suffers...
JUBAIL: Jubail beaches are expected to receive many tourists during September as a large number of people usually head to the city once the summer gets cooler to enjoy their holiday here.As part of the beach preparations for this season, the Social S...
RIYADH: More than 50 percent of vehicle users in the Kingdom are not satisfied with the after-sales service of auto agencies in the Kingdom.In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) to evaluate the performance of automobile...
JEDDAH: The Appeals Court has upheld the verdict issued by a specialized penal court which sentenced Dr. Said bin Zair to four years in prison from the date of his arrest in 1428.According to the ruling, the academician is also banned from traveling...
JEDDAH: Health authorities in the Eastern Province are expected to issue a decision soon against four Saudi nurses accused of “negligence” for an incident which led to the amputation of the hand of a Saudi girl after they tried to insert a needle in...
JEDDAH: The Jeddah municipality has closed down a popular restaurant following the discovery of a rat rummaging through food items.The rat act was captured on video and posted on social media websites. It went viral, prompting the authorities to laun...

Stay Connected

Facebook