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Tension reigns in Abidjan

Tension reigned in Abidjan on Thursday when soldiers drove through the city firing shots into the air, surrounded - and reportedly occupied - state radio and TV and, an airline source told IRIN, took over the control tower at the Houphouet Boigny International Airport.

The reason for the unrest was unclear. Some sources blamed it on disgruntled peacekeepers just back from a tour of duty in the Central African Republic and angered by the non-payment of their wages.

However, a usually reliable source told IRIN the problem started when a group of soldiers tried to stage a coup at around 03.00 GMT on Thursday, but failed. They later sought refuge at an ammunition dump, then came out onto the streets pretending that their action had to do with wage-related demands, the source said.

In the early hours of the afternoon, state radio and TV went off the air after soldiers surrounded both facilities, which they also reportedly occupied. They subsequently took over the airport's air traffic control tower, causing flights to and from Cote d'Ivoire to be annulled.

Road transport, too, was disrupted after the mutineers requisitioned civilian vehicles. At one point, IRIN saw soldiers driving around in two taxis, hanging out the windows and shooting into the air.

One radio station reported that the government had asked loyal soldiers not to take any action against the mutineers.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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