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Army on rampage in Ivory Coast

GROUPS OF armed soldiers took to the streets of Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, yesterday, shooting into the air, stealing cars and looting stores.

Residents took cover as military vehicles raced by, shops closed and barricades went up in some neighbourhoods.

Soldiers stormed through a packed shopping centre, shooting into the air, witnesses said. The troops ordered people on to the floor and grabbed money from cash registers, said Pierre Koutou, a gardener at the centre. "They came in and were acting crazy ... but I didn't see anyone hurt," he said.

Gunfire was also heard near the national television and radio stations, which both went off the air without explanation, shortly before 2.30pm.

No official reason for the rebellion was given. But government officials and Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the soldiers were angry because they were owed money. (AP)