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01 Jun 2005 17:23
Unidentified men armed with guns and knives attacked villagers in Côte d’Ivoire’s western cocoa-growing area, killing 41 people and injuring 64, officials said on Wednesday.
The attack occurred near the town of Duekoue, 400km north-west of the commercial capital, Abidjan, said Theodore Ble, a senior official at the social affairs ministry.
Army spokesperson Jules Yao Yao said 41 people were killed and 64 injured. Ble said 11 people died from gunshot wounds, and others were stabbed to death.
Cocoa plantations are often at the heart of disputes between locals and immigrants in the region.
Immigrants have cultivated the fertile land for decades, but locals view them as sympathisers with rebels who have controlled the northern half of Côte d’Ivoire since a failed coup bid in September 2002.
Despite peace deals aimed at reuniting the country, Côte d’Ivoire remains tense and outbreaks of violence are common.
Jaro Karim, a local leader of the immigrant community, said the killing of four immigrants near Duekoue last week could have triggered Wednesday’s attack.
Last month, fighting in the between locals and immigrants left 15 dead in the same region.—Sapa-AP
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