Soldiers cut off access to Ivory Coast’s second largest city

A group of rebel soldiers blocked access to the Ivory Coast’s second largest city as part of a revolt over a pay dispute.

Rebel soldiers have their armed vehicle positioned along a street near the entrance of Ivory Coast's army headquarters in Abidjan on Friday. Soldiers continued the mutiny on Saturday by blocking access to Bouake, the Ivory Coast's second largest city.Photo by Legnan Koula/EPA
Rebel soldiers have their armed vehicle positioned along a street near the entrance of Ivory Coast’s army headquarters in Abidjan on Friday. Soldiers continued the mutiny on Saturday by blocking access to Bouake, the Ivory Coast’s second largest city.Photo by Legnan Koula/EPA

The soldiers cut off roads leading north and south out of the city of Bouake on Saturday. One of the leaders of the revolt, Sergeant Seydou Kone, said the group was prepared to continue the mutiny despite government warnings.

“We do not want to negotiate with anyone,” he said. “We’re also ready to fight if we are attacked. We have nothing to lose.”
Residents said shops in Bouake remained closed while soldiers dressed in balaclavas shot their weapons in the air and patrolled the streets in stolen cars.

Kone said the mutiny was also active in other cities and towns such as Abidjan, Daloa, Man, Bondoukou and Korhogo, where there were also reports of gunfire.

The soldiers began the revolt on Friday due to delays of bonus payments promised by the government after a similar mutiny in January.

The 8,400 troops behind the January revolt were paid $8,332 to end that rebellion and were still owed additional bonus of $11,665 each.

Many of the soldiers were outraged after a spokesman for the soldiers announced on Thursday they would abandon demands for the remaining bonus.

Military Chief of Staff General Sekou Toure warned the soldiers there would be “severe disciplinary sanctions” if they don’t end the revolt.

By Daniel Uria