Rebellious soldiers in Ivory Coast have sealed off access to Bouake, the country’s second largest city. According to residents, the soldiers blocked roads leading north and south out of the city.
The seal off happened on the second day of the soldiers protests over a pay dispute. And it came despite government warnings of harsh punishments.
The revolt began in Bouake early on Friday before spreading quickly, following a pattern similar to a mutiny in January by the same group that paralysed parts of the country and marred its image as a post-war success story.
“We do not want to negotiate with anyone,” said Sergeant Seydou Kone, one of the leaders of the uprising. “We’re also ready to fight if we are attacked. We have nothing to lose.”
Bouake residents said shops remained closed as soldiers, many of them wearing balaclavas, fired their weapons in the air and patrolled the streets in stolen cars.
Kone said the mutineers were also active in the commercial capital Abidjan and the towns of Korhogo, Daloa, Man and Bondoukou. A Korhogo resident confirmed gunfire there and said access to the main military camp had been blocked.
In a statement broadcast on state-owned television late on Friday, Military Chief of Staff General Sekou Toure threatened the soldiers with “severe disciplinary sanctions” if they did not end the revolt.