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Cote d’Ivoire: Several Hurt in Clash At Rally

Radio Netherlands Worldwide (Hilversum)

21 January 2012

At least 45 people were injured, two seriously, as supporters of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo clashed with rivals Saturday and police fired tear gas to keep the two sides apart.

The Gbagbo loyalists were forced to call off their meeting, intended to mark a “political comeback” for the former ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), after they came under a hail of stones from opponents.

They had gathered in a square in Gbagbo’s stronghold district of Yopougon in the economic capital when they came under attack by a group of youths.

Medics at the scene tended to 45 injured people, said Leonard Nieoule, the secretary general of the Red Cross in Ivory Coast.

They took 10 people to medical centres of whom two were seriously wounded, he said.

As the Gbagbo supporters tried to retaliate, the police, who were backed by troops of the Ivory Coast UN mission, fired several volleys of tear gas.

And when FPI leader Miaka Oureto began speaking, the stoning redoubled and the opponents stormed the square, sweeping up chairs and obliging a party official to abandon the meeting, advising people to go home in small groups.

FPI youth leader Justin Koua blamed young activists loyal to President Alassane Ouattara for the violence.

“In terms of security, the state didn’t do its job,” he said.

Gbagbo’s refusal to quit after his defeat in a November 2010 election triggered a conflict that left around 3,000 people dead before Ouattara took power with the support of UN and French peacekeeping forces.

Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and is now in The Hague awaiting trial by the International Criminal Court, accused of crimes against humanity for having his alleged role in the unrest. – ANP/AFP

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