Breaking News: Ivory Coast: Gunfire erupts at army talks

Ivory Coast soldiers standing guard at the airport in BouakeImage copyrightAFP / GETTY IMAGES
Image captionIvory Coast soldiers at the airport in Bouake, ahead of the defence minister’s arrival for negotiations

Friday January 13, 2017, a heavy gunfire broke out in Ivory Coast’s second-largest city, Bouake, late on Friday, as tensions flared following last week’s army mutiny.

Shots were also heard at the main army barracks in the commercial capital, Abidjan.

The government is currently holding talks with military leaders after a pay dispute led to a two-day uprising.

A rebellion was calmed last week when the government agreed to the military’s demands.

But a negotiator for the soldiers said the renewed gunfire stemmed from fears that the government was going back on the deal to pay their bonuses.

Hundreds of soldiers surrounded the building in Bouake where talks were taking place, and fired weapons in the air.

Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi was inside, having flown back into the city earlier in the day to lead negotiations.

Mr Donwahi was briefly held hostage by the military earlier this week.

President Alassane Ouattara appealed for calm following the mutiny, and dismissed the heads of the army, police and paramilitary gendarmes.

Order was believed to have been restored, but the flare-up has renewed security concerns.

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The mutiny began in Bouake a week ago, with soldiers firing rocket launchers.

Protests also took place in the cities of Man, Daloa, Daoukro, Odienne and Korhogo, and, the following day, soldiers took over the army headquarters in Abidjan.

President Ouattara went on national television on Sunday to announce a deal had been struck.

Media captionPresident Alassane Ouattara: “This manner of making demands is not appropriate”

“I confirm that I have agreed to take into account the demands of the soldiers over bonuses and better working conditions,” he said.

Aside from better pay, the agreement was reported to include an amnesty for the mutineers.

The mutiny raised fears of a resurgence of the violence seen during Ivory Coast’s 10-year civil war, which ended in 2011.

Some of the mutineers were thought to be former rebels who joined the army after the conflict.

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