RealNews

Liberian Gunmen Rampant in Ivory Coast

“The Liberians are coming!” Panic breaks in a western Ivory Coast town at the mere rumour of it. Townspeople bolt for their homes. Fierce rebel fighters dive for cover, AK-47s at the ready. Renegades from across the border in lawless Liberia have entered Ivory Coast’s 5-month-old civil war on both sides – but increasingly, are in it purely for themselves, and for the loot. “Mad Max Country,” international aid groups call the far west, referring to the 1979 film about an apocalyptic future populated by roving gangs. Freelance Liberian gunmen now roam Ivory Coast’s cocoa- and coffee-rich west, preying on civilians, seizing homes and cars, and attacking towns at will. The entry of the dope-smoking, gun-toting marauders into the war heightens fears that one of West Africa’s leading nations will go the way of one of its worst – Liberia, bloodied and ruined by more than a decade of conflict. Liberia’s 1989-96 civil war, followed by what is now four years of rebellion against warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, have helped flood West Africa with small arms, and accustomed fighters to the idea of unarmed civilians as legitimate targets. Full Story

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