French troops seize armed vehicle in Ivory Coast

21st February 2005, Comments 0 comments

ABIDJAN, Feb 21 (AFP) - French peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast said Monday that they had captured an armed vehicle illegally crossing the confidence zone dividing rebel from government territory in the restive west African state.

ABIDJAN, Feb 21 (AFP) - French peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast said Monday that they had captured an armed vehicle illegally crossing the confidence zone dividing rebel from government territory in the restive west African state.

French troops patrolling the zone on Sunday called in a helicopter, which was forced to open fire to help apprehend the vehicle driven by an armed man and packed with weapons including anti-tank rockets, a machine gun, ammunition and a pistol.

The man, who has been identified only as having come from the rebel-held north, has been taken into custody by the UN operation in the former French colony.

Antoine Beugre, spokesman for the rebel New Forces, told AFP that his movement had not yet been told who the man was or where he had come from, but noted that "it was about time" that the peacekeepers were doing their jobs.

"Their job is to protect the confidence zone and if they woke up today having stopped someone carrying weapons and passing through the zone, one could say that it is what they should have been doing for quite some time," he said.

"We await further details about this capture, as we are quite surprised that this was just one individual, who was so quickly identified as one of our men, strolling through the confidence zone with a pack of weapons."

A failed coup in September 2002 plunged Ivory Coast into a divisive war that has left rebels in control of the north of the world's top cocoa producer.

A ceasefire had held for more than 18 months with only minor violations of the confidence zone, but a series of government air strikes on rebel-held towns in November dashed already waning hopes of reconciliation and heightened tensions on both sides of the zone.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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