Ivory Coast has launched a military operation “to re-establish order” after soldiers who staged a three-day mutiny over bonus payments refused the army’s demand to disarm.
The mutineers, most of them former rebel fighters who fought to bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, have sealed off Ivory Coast’s second-largest city, Bouake, and used gunfire to break up protests against the revolt.
As loyalist soldiers advanced on Bouake on Sunday, the Military Chief of Staff General Sekou Toure issued a statement announcing the new offensive.
“These acts of an extreme seriousness are contrary to the mission of protection assigned to the armed forces,” the statement said. “As a result, a military operation is under way to re-establish order.”
Six people were wounded by gunfire on Sunday, and one of three protesters shot and wounded on Saturday died of his wounds.
The mutineers said they would not surrender.
“They asked us to lay down our arms and surrender. We refused and demand our money…We are waiting for them,” Sergeant Seydou Kone told the Reuters news agency.
The government has said it will not negotiate with the disgruntled soldiers.
The mutiny has raised fears of a resurgence of the violence seen during Ivory Coast’s 10-year civil war, which ended in 2011.