French troops may have 'killed people' in Ivory Coast

8th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 7 (AFP) - France's military chief said on Sunday that his troops may have killed or wounded people during recent clashes with anti-French demonstrators in Ivory Coast.

PARIS, Nov 7 (AFP) - France's military chief said on Sunday that his troops may have killed or wounded people during recent clashes with anti-French demonstrators in Ivory Coast.

The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Bentegeat, told a television channel that while trying to protect foreign residents in the commercial capital Abidjan, his troops had come up against looters and other aggressors.

"We had to fire warning shots and we could indeed have wounded or killed a few people," he said.

"We at all times made every effort to limit to a minimum the risks both for the civilian population and for any adversaries we came across," he told TV5.

He said that his troops had rescued 750 people, mainly French nationals but also Lebanese, Belgians, and Germans who were caught up in the violence.

"We faced a number of looters in Abidjan when we went to the aid of French nationals - in all we have taken in 750 people," Bentegeat said, adding that he was "proud" of the attitude of his men.

"We were hit, we reacted, now things for us are over. We have only one concern ... carry out our two missions: protecting French and foreign nationals and applying" the UN resolution concerning the mandate of the international force in Ivory Coast and the peace accords.

An Ivorian government air strike on Saturday killed nine French troops and a US civilian in the central rebel stronghold of Bouake.

In an immediate riposte, French President Jacques Chirac ordered the destruction of two Ivorian jets in the capital Yamoussoukro as well as at least three attack helicopters, effectively eliminating the Ivorian air force.

France now has 5,300 troops in the country, including the 4,000-strong Unicorn force, which along with 6,000 UN peacekeepers patrols a buffer zone separating the rebel-held north from the government-held south.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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