DABOU, Ivory Coast — Armed men attacked an army base, a prison and police stations overnight near Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan in the latest of a series of assaults, military sources and locals said Thursday.
"Our positions were attacked at Dabou on the corridor leading into the town," said a source in the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast (FRCI).
"But the situation is under control. Our men pushed back the attack. A sweep (for the assailants) is under way," he told AFP.
Two police headquarters and the town prison also came under attack, according to a source in the security forces, while local member of parliament Mohammed Sess Soukou said some 100 prisoners had escaped.
The attacks in and around Abidjan have sparked a sharp rise in tension more than a year after the post-electoral crisis of December 2010 to April 2011 claimed 3,000 lives.
"The prison was smashed, all the prisoners got out, some have been recaptured but many have fled," Sess Soukou told journalists, adding that out of at least 150 inmates who escaped, just 50 had been caught.
However prison governor Adjoua Ouattara said that there were 119 inmates in the jail before the attack, but was unable to give the number who had been recaptured.
A resident of Dabou, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Abidjan, said earlier he had been hearing heavy gunfire since Wednesday at 2300 GMT (11:00 pm).
"No one can go out, we are holed up in our homes," he said.
AFP journalists saw the bodies of three civilians killed in the local morgue. One was a bus driver who was the victim of a carjacking and the other two were workers at a local bakery.
Later on Wednesday, residents began to return to the streets after FRCI reinforcements were deployed.
The local police commissioner said two gunmen were killed, about a dozen were arrested and that there were no army fatalities. The army did not provide its own tally.
One of the police stations was riddled with bullet holes, while a burned out truck was seen at the entrance to the town.
The latest incident around Abidjan follows a clash which killed 10 soldiers, mainly in an army base.
Sess Soukou blamed militia loyal to ousted president Laurent Gbagbo, who sparked the 2010-11 electoral crisis by refusing to admit defeat at the polls to current President Alassane Ouattara.
The Ivorian Popular Front, formerly Gbagbo's party, has denied the government claims and demanded inquiries.
Gbagbo is now being held by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces trial for alleged crimes against humanity.
Ivory Coast's army also came under attack last Monday at a border post with Liberia in the volatile west, which has seen several outbreaks of violence in recent months.
Thirteen Ivorians suspected of being involved in this operation were arrested in Liberia close to the border, Liberian authorities announced, adding that two of the men were armed.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »