More Britons flown out of troubled Ivory Coast

Click to follow
The Independent Online

More Britons were flown out of the troubled West African state of Ivory Coast yesterday as an operation to rescue foreigners from the violence continued. Some 400 British military personnel and two RAF Hercules aircraft are evacuating expatriates to neighbouring Ghana.

More Britons were flown out of the troubled West African state of Ivory Coast yesterday as an operation to rescue foreigners from the violence continued. Some 400 British military personnel and two RAF Hercules aircraft are evacuating expatriates to neighbouring Ghana.

Violence erupted after France retaliated for the deaths of nine of its peacekeepers and an American aid worker in the country by destroying its small air force. One of the evacuees, John Sullivan, head of Save the Children's operations in Ivory Coast, said "incendiary" rhetoric broadcast on radio and TV had led to attacks on white people, adding: "It's hard for large mobs of roaming people to distinguish between French and other white-skinned people, who seem to be the focus of attacks."

France defended itself against accusations by Ivory Coast authorities - and some Western evacuees - that it used excessive force to protect foreigners during five days of upheaval in its former colony. The head of French armed forces, General Henri Bentegeat, acknowledged that his soldiers opened fire to hold back what he called a "pack of looters, rapists and uncontrollable or manipulated people" attacking foreigners in the commercial capital, Abidjan. But he said the soldiers did "the absolute minimum" in self-defence.

However, Ivory Coast's national reconciliation minister, Dano Djedje, said: "France has used extreme violence against unarmed demonstrators ... and they should take responsibility for it." (AP)

Comments