Calling to check if friends are still alive

Ethnic killings

It looks like the Gbagbo regime has stepped up killings of civilians in Abidjan in the last few days. I guess the killings were never entirely political, but the ethnic aspect of it seem to have gotten more pronounced lately.  Targeted groups are immigrants from the rest of West Africa (even 2nd and 3rd generation), ethnic groups from the north – largest of which is the Malinke (often called Dioula), and the Baole ethnic group of the center that largely voted for the PDCI party.

Ethnicity isn’t marked in Ivorian identity cards (as it was in Rwanda) but it’s nevertheless easy to identify especially northern ethnic groups by their names.  Furthermore, there are many areas in Abidjan that are dominated by the ethnic groups mentioned above, and these are the areas that have been attacked by Gbagbo’s forces.

The situation looks worrisome in the large (possibly 1 million people) Yopougon neighbourhood that voted for Gbagbo 2:1.  I have read reports of attacks against enclaves within Yopougon where northerners live, and roadblocks around such enclaves manned by armed pro-Gbagbo militia.

Stories from Yopougon

I have a few friends of northern ethnic groups living in Yopougon, and it’s gotten to the point that I call mainly to check that they are still alive. So far they are all ok, but some have gone into hiding, and others have left Abidjan to reach safety in the rebel-controlled north.

There was an incident three days ago where a man was stopped at a roadblock in Yopougon and an amulet was found on him which was taken as a sign he could be a rebel soldier.  He was let go, but started running causing the military manning the roadblock shot at him. He was hit in the shoulder, but kept running and reached the gate of the house of a friend of mine asking to be let in.  My friend was sleeping and never opened, and the man went elsewhere without getting caught.

The military, seeing blood outside the gate of my friend’s house, thought that the man had taken refuge there. They asked to get in, but my friend did not open the gate, and the military shot at the gate and the house, but did not manage to get in. Then the military left, but said they would come back in a few hours causing people from the entire block to leave. However, they never did come back.


Picture of people killed in a memorial of the Rwandan genocide.

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