Monrovia — Three men believed to be Liberians have been shot and killed in the capital city of Ivory Coast, Abidjan, after they reportedly attacked a military base.
Arms and ammunition, machetes, Liberian passport and identity cards, driver’s license, were retrieved from the men who are now believed to be mercenaries hired to topple the Alassane Ouattara government.
The incident reportedly occurred at 1:00 a.m. on Thursday.
According to reports, the Ivorian government has launched an investigation into the attack.
Sources in the Ivory Coast believe that the men were paid up to US$5,000 to cause distraction for the government. On the other hand, it is believed that the men were armed robbers.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Information last Thursday evening, the Liberian government stated that it is deeply concerned over the incident.
“Passports and other documents purportedly belonging to the assailants which depict Liberian nationality were put on display by Ivorian authorities,” the ministry confirmed.
The statement added, “The Liberian government strongly condemns any act which disrupts the peace of its neighbors and the region as a whole.”
The government reiterated its commitment to ensuring that no inch of its territory is used as a launchpad for insurrection.
According to the Liberian government, it has initiated contacts with its Ivorian counterpart in order to determine the full extent of the reported incident. Additionally, both governments have committed to strengthening the joint border surveillance mechanism.
The administration of President George M. Weah has worked tirelessly to build on the sisterly relationship the country has with the Cote d’ Ivoire, including the President’s personal connections with Ivorian leaders.
President Weah has announced his intention to shortly dispatch a delegation to Cote d’Ivoire to meet with the Ivorian authorities.
Liberia-Ivory Coast Mercenaries
In 2012, a Human Rights Watch Report disclosed that at least 40 civilians were killed in the Ivory Coast and children as young as 14 are being recruited by armed groups in Liberia.
The armed men fought for Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo and escaped to Liberia following his arrest. And according to HRW, the armed men carried out at least four attacks targeting ethnic groups who support Ivory Coast’s current president Alassane Outtara.
Ivory Coast came close to a civil war when former Gbagbo refused to cede power to Ouattara in a 2010 election. An estimated 3,000 people were killed in the six months of violence that followed.
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During the political tension, both sides handed out weapons and recruited young men to fight during the conflict. Several thousand Liberian mercenaries joined the fight, the vast majority for Gbagbo’s side, Human Rights Watch says.
In 2017, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf granted executive clemency to four of nine Grand Gedeans who were accused convicted and sentence to life imprisonment for mercenary activities in activities the Ivory Coast.
Thirteen Grand Gedeans were indicted by the Liberian government for carrying out mayhem and mercenary activities in Ivorian towns closer to the Liberian border. They were also linked to the killing of seven Nigerien peacekeepers and at least 10 civilians on June 8, 2012 near Tai, Southeastern Ivory Coast and fighting side-by-side with militias loyal to former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.
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