Ivory Coast official denies attack on French

17th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 12 (AFP) - A leading Ivory Coast politician denied Friday that government forces attacked French troops last week in an incident that triggered French reprisals and Ivorian mob counter-violence.

PARIS, Nov 12 (AFP) - A leading Ivory Coast politician denied Friday that government forces attacked French troops last week in an incident that triggered French reprisals and Ivorian mob counter-violence.

Mamadou Koulibaly, speaker of the national assembly, asked about the air attack last Saturday that left nine French soldiers dead, told a French radiostation: "It is not proven."

He added: "The Ivorian armed forces did not that day have any aircraft leave their hangars to do anything whatsoever."

The attack last Saturday on a position at Bouake in the centre of Ivory Coast also killed an American civilian and wounded 38 French soldiers.

The raid was one in a series of government strikes on the rebel-held north of the divided country, and violated an 18-month-old ceasefire reached last May to end Ivory Coast's civil war.

France reacted by destroying much of the Ivorian air force, a move which in turn provoked angry riots against French and European targets in many areas.

According to Koulibaly, regarded as Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo's chief lieutenant, government troops were in the Bouake region that day.

"There was no question (of the government forces) bombing a position in which our soldiers were present. It is completely incomprehensible."

Koulibaly said French parliamentarians should go to Bouake and see for themselves and criticised French President Jacques Chirac for reacting "impulsively."

On Friday Gbagbo cast doubt in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper on whether there had been any French casualties, saying he had "seen no bodies."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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