London Evening Standard, April 8, 2011
More than 100 bodies, some of them burned alive, have been found in the Ivory Coast in the past 24 hours, the UN said today.
About 60 were killed in one attack and about 40 people in another that appeared to have been carried out by Liberian mercenaries, said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
He added that “all the incidents appear at least partly ethnically motivated” and that there were reports of “smaller scale killings in other places that have yet to be investigated”.
Some victims were burned while others were thrown down a well.
The International Rescue Committee warned that chaos in the country was escalating, citing an “explosive mix of political, economic and ethnic tension”. “Even if the political and military showdown in Abidjan ends today, we’re concerned that looting, hostility, bloodshed, reprisal killings and sexual assaults will escalate in communities across the country,” said Louis Falcy, the rescue committee’s director in Ivory Coast.
Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner of a presidential election in November but Laurent Gbagbo has refused to hand over power.
In his first TV appearance since the siege of the main city of Abidjan began a week ago, Mr Ouattara said that his forces are setting up a security perimeter around the presidential palace where Mr Gbagbo and his family are hiding in a tunnel.
Mr Ouattara said his troops will work to secure the streets of Abidjan, where people have sheltered inside their homes amid heavy arms fire.
He also called for the European Union to lift sanctions so that the country’s cocoa exports can resume.