20-05-2022 07:40 PM Jerusalem Timing

Ivory Coast Forces Attack Militia in Abidjan

Ivory Coast Forces Attack Militia in Abidjan

Forces of Ivory Coast’s new President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan launched an attack against a militia group that helped drive his rival Laurent Gbagbo from power.

Forces of Ivory Coast's new President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan on Wednesday launched an attack against a militia group that helped drive his rival Laurent Gbagbo from power, officials said.

The Republican Forces moved into Abidjan's northern Abobo district in an offensive to dislodge fighters of former coup-plotter Ibrahim Coulibaly, who claims to command a 5,000-strong force.

Ouattara has urged armed groups to lay down weapons or be disarmed by force, as his government, which took power after strongman Gbagbo's April 11 arrest, exerts authority in the crisis-hit country.

"At the moment, our forces are resisting and we will launch a counter-offensive at the right moment," said Coulibaly, the head of the militia known as "invisible commando."

Heavy gunfire rocked Abobo where residents said they saw several pick-ups mounted with machine-guns and anti-aircraft weapons as the government forces moved towards the militia base.


Ibrahim Coulibaly
 

"There is a pocket of resistance which we want to clear," said army General Michel Gueu.

The government forces surrounded the invisible commando's position and began searching houses and calling on the fighters to disarm.

Coulibaly wants recognition by the new government for his forces' role in driving out pro-Gbagbo forces in Abobo earlier this year. He has sought to meet Ouattara, but has been told his forces must first disarm.

On Monday, Felix Anoble - the top aide and spokesman for Ibrahim Coulibaly - blamed Ouattara's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro for blocking their bid to meet with the president.

Coulibaly and Soro have long been at odds since Soro ousted him from the leadership of their rebel group, which attempted to overthrow Gbagbo in 2002.

The new administration in Ivory Coast is struggling to restore stability in the west African country emerging from a bitter and sometimes violent post-election crisis that ended with Gbagbo's capture.

Ouattara's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro
Gbagbo had refused to relinquish power to Ouattara who was regarded by the international community as the winner of the November 28 elections.

Life in much of Abidjan, the scene of some of the fiercest clashes pitting Ouattara forces and pro-Gbagbo fighters earlier this month, is slowly returning to normal.

On Tuesday, the government said it had launched a preliminary probe on "crimes and offences" committed by Gbagbo and his associates.

Gbagbo and his wife Simone have been put under house arrest in separate towns in the north of the country.

But Ouattara's forces are still facing resistance from fighters loyal to his rival, who are holed up in Abidjan's northwestern Yopougon neighborhood.