France denies firing on crowd in Ivory Coast

10th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 10 (AFP) - France denied Wednesday that its soldiers had opened fire on demonstrators outside a hotel in the main Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, killing at least seven people.

PARIS, Nov 10 (AFP) - France denied Wednesday that its soldiers had opened fire on demonstrators outside a hotel in the main Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, killing at least seven people.

The victims were not killed by French soldiers but had been caught in the crossfire between so-called "Young Patriots" - hardline backers of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo - and Ivorian soldiers and police, Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told reporters as she left a cabinet meeting in Paris.

"Everyone was able to see yesterday (Tuesday) that there were exchanges of fire between the crowd, the Young Patriots and Ivorian soldiers and police who were standing in between the crowd and the French armoured vehicles," she said.

"That resulted in Ivorian soldiers and police being assaulted and, to my knowledge, an Ivorian gendarme was killed," she said.

Hospital sources in Abidjan have said seven demonstrators were killed in the violence outside the Hotel Ivoire, near Gbagbo's residence in Abidjan's Cocody district, while an adviser to Gbagbo said 10 Ivorian civilians were killed by French soldiers outside the hotel.

"The massacre of civilians by French soldiers amounts to 50 dead (since the start of the unrest last week) of whom 10 were killed yesterday alone," Alain Toussaint told Europe 1 radio.

Toussaint said he based his figures on information from the Red Cross and other organisations.

A wave of anti-French demonstrations has hit Ivory Coast since French planes destroyed the Ivorian air force in retaliation for the killing of nine French peace-keepers at the weekend.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article