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Ivory Coast’s Bouake, Daloa and Korogho hit by shooting

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Gunfire has been heard in three major cities in Ivory Coast in a mutiny by soldiers over pay, officials say.

The mutineers seized weapons from two police stations in the country’s second city, Bouake, and took up positions at its entry points, according to reports.

Shooting has also been reported in the cities of Daloa and Korogho.

President Alassane Ouattara convened a crisis meeting of his military chiefs, as the government entered into talks with the mutineers.

Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwah called on troops to return to barracks so that “lasting solutions” could be found, state media reported.

Mr Ouattara took power in 2011, ending a civil war which lasted for almost a decade.

Bouake was at the centre of the rebellion to oust Mr Ouattara’s predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes.

Soldiers armed with AK-47 fired at the offices of the state broadcaster in the city, and had seized control of Bouake’s western entrance, a resident, who asked not to be identified, told the BBC.

A teacher in Bouake, Ami Soro, said the city was deserted, Reuters news agency reports.

“Men in balaclavas are patrolling the city on motorcycles or in cars. They aren’t attacking residents… They told us to stay at home,” she is quoted as saying.

The mutineers have not yet issued an official statement, but the government said their grievances focused on pay, bonuses and promotion prospects.

“It’s a mutiny by former fighters integrated into the army who are demanding bonuses of 5 million CFA francs ($8,000; £6,500) each plus a house,” a soldier who asked to remain anonymous told AFP news agency.

An MP for Bouake, Bema Fofana, told the BBC that the soldiers did not appear to have a leader or spokesman, making it difficult to negotiate with them.

Most of the soldiers were former rebels who were integrated into the army after the civil war, he added.

The rebels swept into the main city Abidjan from their stronghold of Bouake in 2011, helping Mr Ouattara take power after Mr Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in elections the previous year.

Source: BBC

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