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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 17:33 GMT
Eyewitness: Ivory Coast mass grave
A rebel soldier standing near the grave
Some 120 people were killed, villagers say
The BBC's Joan Baxter describes the scene at a mass grave in the Ivory Coast, where government troops are being blamed for the deaths of more than 100, mainly immigrant, workers.

We saw two mass graves here in the village of Monoko-Zohi in western Ivory Coast.

They are almost joined together and are probably 30 metres by about 10 metres in size and not very deep - unfortunately.

The earth has been heaped up over bodies, but there are still body parts visible.

This is because local people here were terrified of further attacks and buried their dead in a great hurry.

With the stench of death all around us, Ibrahima Ouedrago, head of the Burkina Faso committee in the village, said that some 120 people were killed, including Ivorians, Burkinabes, Malians, and people from Guinea.

Over two days, 27-28 November, soldiers shot some victims where they found them, and gathered others for execution together, he said.

Some had their throats slit.

'Gbagbo's men'

Six trucks full of men wearing Ivorian military uniforms, and with Ivorian Government licence plates drove into the village, just inside rebel-held territory, and began firing in the air.

Many of the villagers fled. Many of those who did not are now buried in the grave.

Accusing the villagers of feeding rebels, soldiers went house-to-house in the hamlet with a list of names, survivors alleged.

Villager with a cloth over his mouth
The stench of death remains strong

"Those were [President Laurent] Gbagbo's men," they said.

"We heard the shooting - we panicked, and we all ran," said Kamousse, a merchant who was showing a customer a radio when the soldiers arrived.

"But my brother stayed in the house. He said, 'Maybe it's just someone shooting into the air'.

"Afterward, they took him behind the house to the latrine and shot him."

One Burkinabe woman, Adiara Ouedrago, said the arrival of rebel fighters saved their lives.

"If the rebels were like the government forces, we'd all be dead," she said.

She has now fled the village of Monoko-Zohi.


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08 Dec 02 | Africa
26 Nov 02 | Africa
25 Nov 02 | Africa
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