Fifty bodies found in Ivory Coast forest

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The Independent Online

The bullet-ridden bodies of 50 young men have been found in a forest clearing on the outskirts of Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan.

The bullet-ridden bodies of 50 young men have been found in a forest clearing on the outskirts of Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan.

Witnesses said it appeared the victims had been shot at close range before being dumped.

The use of bullets in the slaying suggests the security forces were responsible.

The gruesome find comes a day after people's power protests toppled army ruler Robert Geui, generating political and ethnic clashes.

A number of the dead were found stripped naked.

One group of about 10 bodies lay strewn across one corner of the clearing. As many as 40 bodies littered the ground nearby.

The identity of the dead or their ethnic origin was not clear.

Thursday's clashes set supporters of Muslim former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara against followers of the country's new President, Laurent Gbagbo, who won Sunday's presidential election.

Ouattara, who draws his support from the Muslim north and its migrants, was excluded from the election. His supporters took to the streets as Guei fled to demand that a new election be held.

Gbagbo's supporters come essentially from the animist and Christian west.

Ouattara has accused members of the security forces of siding with Gbagbo loyalists and targeting men from the north.

On Friday, his spokesman Aly Coulibaly put the death toll during three days of protest and violence at 155, many of them from the north.

He said that 316 people had been wounded and 116 detained.

"There's a problem of human rights here." he said.

Initial estimates of the death toll during the people's power protests on Tuesday and Wednesday and during Thursday's political and ethnic clashes topped 100.

Soldiers loyal to Guei fired into the crowd at the height to the protests that toppled him.

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