General News of 2012-09-26

Ivorian Army Officer Exonerates Ghana From Border Attack

An eyewitness account on the recent armed attack in Cote d’Ivoire has cast a huge doubt on the claim by that country’s Defense Minister, Paul Koffi Koffi, that the attackers came from Ghana, and carried out the atrocities which led to four deaths.

The eyewitness, a military officer by name Lieutenant Amadou Koné, nicknamed Sampayo, who commands the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast (FRCI), based at the border town of Noe, upon a question from Radio France International (RFI) programme called “Africa Morning,” as to whether the attackers were coming from Ghana, replied “That, I cannot confirm. I have not seen them coming from Ghana”.

The Herald’s sources in Cote d’Ivoire say Lieutenant Amadou Koné, who was in-charge of the Ivorian soldiers that fiercely repelled the armed assailants from his Noe military base, was questioned last Saturday, September 22, 2012, by a journalist called Cyril Ben Simon, in the 7: 30 pm edition of the programme.

The Ivorians closed land, air and sea borders to Ghana after the attack, leading to people, especially travelers and traders, being stranded for days. Huge revenue loss has also been recorded by the Jomoro District Assembly in Ghana’s Western Region.

The top army officer was emphatic that the same armed men had earlier staged similar attacks on two other towns- Yopougon and Akouédo, respectively but at different times.

The Ivorian authorities recently had a similar diplomatic row with Liberia, almost accusing it of habouring pro- Laurent Gbagbo dissidents, who launched attacks along the Liberian- Cote d’Ivoire border, leading to the death of some 15 people.

Lt Sampayo in his account said: On the night of Thursday to Friday, we were visited by an ordinary people, assailants. But, as we knew that we were going to be attacked, we took our precaution. We let them come in and we closed behind them, then the fighting started. It was intense. It started at 1:00 am and finished at 11:00 am. On the attackers’ side, there were 5 dead and few arrests.

Rfi: And FRCI’s side?

Sampayo: On friends’ side, there were just an injured at the wrist. RFI: Have you conducted round searches on Friday?

Lt Sampayo: Of course, it has helped us catch some attackers who have been denounced by the population.

RFI: Do you know who the attackers are?

Lt Sampayo : These are the ones who attacked Yopougon. It is those who attacked Akouédo. They are young. But I have not seen anything on them that can tell me that they are from a particular association or not, but I know that they are attackers. They had Kalashnikovs, RPG and that is.

Rfi: And how many were they?

Lt J Sampayo : I will not be able to give the exact number. But I think they were fifty.

RFI: Has the calm returned to Noe?

Lt Sampayo: Yes, calm has returned. People have began to go about their business.

RFI: Were the attackers coming from Ghana?

Lt Sampayo: That, I cannot confirm. I have not seen them coming from Ghana.

The top army officer’s account contradicts, that of Defense Minister Koffi Koffi’s statement also on Saturday that “Armed elements from Ghana carried out the strike in the border town of Noe”.

“Our positions in Noe were attacked by gunmen coming from Ghana…In reaction, our men killed four attackers and five of them were arrested. The situation is now under control,” said Army spokesman, Cherif Moussa hours after the attack.

Meanwhile, the government of Ghana, which is in talks with its Ivorian counterparts over the incident, has in a statement expressed grave concern over recent developments in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, “namely multiple attacks on police Stations and Gendarmerie barracks in Abidjan and Noe on the Ivorian side of the Elubo border reportedly by armed assailants”.

The statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration confirmed Friday’s closure of the land, air and sea borders with Ghana.

But expressed delight that the Ivorian President, Alassane Dramane Quattara has ordered the re-opening of the air border “after observing cross border movements between the two countries”.

It said “the Government of Ghana fully acknowledges the challenges that these reported incidents pose to the peace and security not only to Cote d’Ivoire but to Ghana as well”.

“Given our shared commitment to peace and security, consistently stated by the Presidents of our two countries, Ghana is particularly concerned by the repeated claims that the incursions are being initiated from Ghana. The Government of Ghana remains determined and resolute that the two jointly investigate these occurrences to our mutual benefits in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that exists between the security services of our two countries and in consonance with our shared responsibility to safeguard peace”, the statement stressed.

“We wish to repeat re-assurance given to the Government and people of Cote d’Ivoire in particular, and the international community that Ghana will continue to abide by international law” the Foreign Ministry said.

It “emphasized that Ghana will not allow the hospitality we offer to refugees from Cote d’Ivoire to be construed as providing an opportunity for planning and executing any action to undermine the sovereignty, peace and reconciliation efforts being undertaken by the Ivorian Government under the committed leadership of President Alassane Quattara”.

The government restated its insistence that refugees and asylum seekers strictly adhere to, and respect the law of Ghana as well as international regulations and conventions, especially the Tripartite Agreement between Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and UNHCR.

The government of Ghana “reaffirm the sustained disposition of our security agencies to collaborate and cooperate fully with their Ivorian counterparts and to intensify cooperation through dialogue and effective sharing of information conducive to the enforcement of domestic and international laws”.

Source: Larry Dogbey
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