Gbagbo supporters face reprisals in I. Coast: Amnesty

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Amnesty International has warned that supporters of ousted Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo are at risk of violent reprisals following his arrest.

The London-based rights group called Tuesday on Ivorians to "abstain from all forms of reprisals and violence".

Amnesty said armed men, some wearing military uniforms, had been conducting house-to-house searches in neighbourhoods, including Yopougon and Koumassi, where supporters of Gbagbo are living.

One eyewitness told Amnesty how a policeman belonging to Gbagbo's ethnic group was taken from his house on Tuesday and shot dead at point blank range in front of him.

"Dozens of young people are going into hiding in Abidjan out of fear for their lives. In the western part of the country people suspected of being pro-Gbagbo are also terrified," said Veronique Aubert, Amnesty International's deputy director for Africa.

"Many are hiding in the bush after their villages were burned down and they need to be protected."

Gbagbo has been held under house arrest since his arrest on Monday following a months-long standoff with supporters of the internationally recognised winner of last year's presidential elections, Alassane Ouattara.

Amnesty repeated calls from the international community for Gbagbo and his family to be treated according to due process of law.

"Serious human rights violations committed by Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters, as well as those committed by forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, must be tackled and the perpetrators brought to justice," said Aubert.

© 2011 AFP

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