Gunfire heard in Ivory Coast cities

Gunfire heard in Ivory Coast cities

Sporadic gunfire was heard overnight in Bouake as well as at military camps in Abidjan.

Last month, the government revised its 2017 budget as it faces lower income from cocoa, its main export crop, limiting its ability to pay soldiers.

Ivory Coast's military has announced it is launching an operation to put down a mutiny within the ranks.

The troops who rebelled over delayed bonus payments controlled the second city Bouake, and heavy gunfire also hit San Pedro, a crucial port for exports of cocoa.

This was clearly news to the disgruntled soldiers, who reacted by starting their mutiny.

The soldiers, majority former rebels, were promised 12 million CFA francs ($19,875) in bonuses by the government for backing Ouattara after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept an election defeat in 2010, but they have received less than half of the cash. Residents said they heard shots being exchanged from early in the morning, describing the gunfire as intense.

In a statement on Sunday, Gen Touré said that numerous mutinous soldiers had listened to earlier calls for them to stand down.

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It is understood that loyalist troops began advancing towards Bouake, the epicentre of the revolt, on Sunday in an operation aimed at ending a four-day nationwide army mutiny, the News Agency of Nigeria writes.

Military staff and rebel soldiers made a pact after two days of talks, Defense Minister Alain Donwahi said Monday in a broadcast on state television, RTI, without elaborating on details of the agreement. "But we want 7 million to be paid in one payment and immediately", Sergeant Seydou Kone, one of the spokesmen, told Reuters.

They were due to receive a further payment this month and several thousand mutineers were unhappy they were not consulted when on Thursday, a spokesman for the group said they would drop their demands for the remaining money.

Ivory Coast has emerged as one of the world's fastest growing economies following a decade-long political crisis ended by a 2011 civil war. "But we can't give up now that we've reached this point".

At least eight people were shot by the mutineers in Bouaké and the northern city of Korhogo on Saturday and Sunday as popular opposition against the revolt gathered momentum, sparking protest marches in several cities, including Abidjan.

The African Development Bank advised its employees in Abidjan to stay at home, warning that the security situation remained unclear.

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