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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Nigeria to help end Ivorian mutiny
Ivorians in Bouake
Civilians in Bouake demonstrate against the president
Nigeria has sent three ground attack aircraft to Ivory Coast to help "quell" the rebellion there.

A Nigerian air forces spokesman said the Alpha jets would support the government in its efforts to put down the uprising by sections of the Ivorian army, which started on 19 September.

The death toll in the rebellion has jumped after the discovery of more than 100 bodies in the town of Bouake, seized by mutinous troops last week.

A correspondent for Reuters news agency who visited a military school in the town said: "I was able to count 112 bodies.

"They were everywhere, lying in rooms and on paths. I was only able to look into a few of the rooms," he reported.

Government aided

At least 270 people were reported dead in the first few days of the mutiny.
French troops
The French were sent in to protect the school

The Nigerian combat planes and support personnel will assist the Ivorian Government forces, Wing Commander Emeka Uzoameka of the Nigerian air force told Reuters on Thursday.

The agency also reported that Ghana had agreed to send its own units to assist President Laurent Gbagbo.

This adds to a growing number of countries which have sent forces to Ivory Coast.

The French already had a garrison in Ivory Coast but reinforced it after the rebellion, with the stated aim of protecting foreign nationals.

On Wednesday, French military forces rescued more than 160 children who were trapped in an international school in Bouake.

The children from the United States, Canada and the Netherlands had been pinned inside the school for a nearly a week by heavy fighting between soldiers and rebels.

Around 200 US troops flew into the country to try to ensure the safety of US citizens and there is also a small British military mission in Abidjan.

Ecowas role

Following their rescue by French troops, the children from the Bouake school were immediately driven out of the city towards the base the French have set up at the airport in the capital city in Yamoussoukro, 100 kilometres (62 miles) away.

The Nigerian Deputy Foreign Minister, Dubem Onyia said that his country's forces were being sent to Ivory Coast under the auspices of Ecomog, the military wing of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

Mr Onyia said the despatch of the aircraft followed a request from the Ecowas chairman, President Wade of Senegal, to help uphold democracy in the region.

But he said that Ecomog would not be sending large contingents of ground troops for the time being.

A spokeswoman for Ecowas, Adrienne Diop, told the French news agency AFP that the Nigerian aircraft had not been sent to Ivory Coast on behalf of Ecowas.

She added that any Ecomog operation would have to be approved by the Ecowas.

The Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo, will attend an Ecowas summit in Dakar on 5 October on the crisis caused by the army mutiny, the community's executive secretary Mohamed Ibn Chambas announced on Thursday.

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26 Sep 02 | Africa
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