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The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Abidjan
"This once peaceful country has never seen anything like this"
 real 56k

The BBC's Ofebia Quist-Arcton
"There have been attacks on rival political party supporters"
 real 28k

Saturday, 28 October, 2000, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Ivorian massacre: Justice promised
Unconscious Ouattara supporter
Abidjan has seen two waves of violence in a week
Ivory Coast's new interior minister has vowed to track down and punish the killers who massacred up to 50 young men during election violence.

The bodies, which had bullet wounds, were found piled up on the outskirts of the country's main city, Abidjan, days after the country was hit by a post-election power struggle.

I had never thought that barbarity could reach such levels

Interior Minister Emile Boga Doudou
The victims may have been supporters of Alassane Ouattara, a leading politician who was excluded from the election which finally brought Laurent Gbagbo to power.

Interior Minister Emile Boga Doudou went to the scene of the mass killing with two other ministers on Saturday, wearing masks to protect themselves from the effects of the decomposing bodies.

"I had never thought that barbarity could reach such levels," he said.

"The guilty will be punished, wherever they come from."

Countdown to crisis
24 Dec 1999
Guei seizes power
24 Jan 2000
Guei promises to restore democracy
6 Oct 2000
Court bars Ouattara and others from election
22 Oct
Gbagbo faces Guei in election
24 Oct
Guei tries to stop vote count
25 Oct
Gbagbo declares victory after protests
Guei disappears
26 Oct
Street battles between supporters of Gbagbo and Ouattara
Gbagbo sworn in
Abidjan errupted in two rounds of violence, the first on 24 October after former military leader General Robert Guei tried to stop the counting of votes in the presidential election he had called.

The second was between supporters of Mr Gbagbo, who won the poll, and Mr Ouattara's backers, who were angry that he was excluded from the election.

The bodies were found on Friday. Many had been stripped naked.

A man who says he is the only survivor of the massacre has blamed military police.

"At the gendarmerie headquarters they undressed us, they hit us, they put us into a truck with bodies, they took us to Yopougon and there the soldiers opened fire," said the man, identifying himself only as Ibrahim.

The deputy commander of the gendarmerie has denied any knowledge of the attack.

The discovery of the massacre brings the death toll since the elections to more than 100, with some estimates being more than twice that high.

The victims were from the country's Muslim Dioula community, who are generally seen as supporters of Mr Ouattara.

President Laurent Gbagbo
President Gbagbo named a government on Friday
President Gbagbo announced the new government on Friday after inviting Mr Ouattara to join - an offer Mr Ouattara declined.

President Gbagbo included representatives of at least three political parties in the broad-based government which he had promised.

He gave the defence, interior and foreign affairs ministries to members of his own Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), but awarded other positions to members of the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI) which governed the country before the December coup, and the small opposition Labour Party.

Unsuccessful talks

But talks between Mr Gbagbo and Mr Ouattara immediately after the president's inauguration on Thursday failed to persuade Mr Ouattara to accept government posts for his Rally of Republicans (RDR) party.

Alassane Ouattara
Ouattara: Declined to participate in government
After meeting the new president, Mr Ouattara said the RDR would consider joining a new government after parliamentary elections, which have been scheduled for 10 December.

Sunday's election was intended to restore civilian rule following the December 1999 coup led by General Guei.

But the country descended into violence after the general tried to halt the counting of votes.

Ivory Coast has spent the past year in the grip of a political crisis which has seriously undermined confidence in what was once seen as West Africa's most stable and prosperous state.

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See also:

25 Oct 00 | Africa
Ivory Coast's uncertain future
25 Oct 00 | Media reports
Ivory Coast minister defects
25 Oct 00 | Media reports
Guei victory speech
25 Oct 00 | Africa
In pictures: Ivory Coast uprising
25 Oct 00 | Media reports
Gbagbo addresses Ivorian nation
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