Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire: Uneasy calm reported in troubled hinterland town

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ABIDJAN, 30 January (IRIN) - An uneasy calm reigned on Thursday in Abgoville, 87 km north of Cote d'Ivoire's commercial capital, Abidjan, following a peace agreement that ended communal clashes which rocked the town earlier this week, sources there told IRIN.
Agboville mayor Claude Chiedou Tetchi said that, according to the local funeral parlour, 15 people died during clashes on Monday and Tuesday between indigenous Abbeys and 'Dioulas', people from communities originally from the north of the country. He said some 40 others had been wounded. About 30 shops and stores were burnt and looted, as were the offices of two transport companies. Two buses were also torched, along with churches and mosques.

On Thursday, security forces rushed to two villages located 18 and 25 km from the town after receiving tips by telephone from villagers about fighting between the two communities, a source in the local gendarmerie (militarised police) said.

This week's clashes had paralysed Agboville. A few "adventurous taxi drivers" worked on Thursday, and one bank opened its doors. However, public offices, stores and markets remained closed. Food had started to become scarce, according to a doctor who told IRIN he planned to travel to Abidjan to buy supplies "if nothing changes in the next 48 hours".

Some residents said water supplies in their areas had been interrupted because pipes had been broken during demonstrations on Sunday against a peace accord signed in Marcoussis, France, on 24 January which provides for the inclusion of rebels in a new government of national unity. The demonstrations - by Abbeys - quickly degenerated into clashes between Abbeys, who are predominantly Christian, and the mostly Muslim Dioulas.

On Wednesday, administrative authorities brokered a peace accord between the Abbey, Dioula and Lebanese communities. The Lebanese were involved in the agreement following rumours that they had supplied weapons to the Dioulas. Tetchi told IRIN that various official delegations were continuing negotiations in surrounding villages to explain Wednesday's peace accord.

Most rural towns and villages throughout southern Cote d'Ivoire have a similar population mix, comprising indigenous ethnic groups, migrants from the north - and in some cases also from Burkina Faso and Mali - and merchants and traders of Lebanese, Mauritanian, Dioula or Guinean origin. However, until recently clashes between communities had been relatively rare except in the west and southwest of the country.

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