ABIDJAN (AFP) – Security forces loyal to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo shot dead at least six women at a demonstration Thursday in support of his rival for the presidency, witnesses said.
The shooting happened as several hundred women had gathered in the Abobo neighbourhood of Abidjan, a stronghold of Alassane Ouattara, and shouted “Gbagbo, get out!” and “Alassane for president”, a resident told AFP.
When the Defence and Security Forces arrived with an armoured vehicle, “they opened fire,” another resident said.
“Six women were killed on the spot,” he said.
Other witnesses said the toll was higher and there were many wounded, some by gunfire and others in a stampede that followed the shooting.
Violent clashes have erupted in the west African country since a disputed election on November 28 which Ouattara is internationally recognised to have won.
Gbagbo, who has been in power since 2000, has however refused to stand down.
Ouattara has the support of much of the international community, including the United Nations, while the African Union has set up a team of heads of state to find a way out of the crisis.