Pro-Gbagbo Rally Attacked, Many Injured

Published January 22, 2012 12:27AM (EST)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Numerous supporters of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo were injured when their rally was attacked on Saturday, according to the United Nations.

A statement issued by the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast said that "many were injured" during the meeting of the Ivorian Popular Front party, known by its French acronym of FPI.

For 10 years, the Gbagbo-led FPI dominated the political scene in this former French colony in West Africa. The party has been reduced to a shell of its former self ever since Gbagbo was forced from power last April.

Reached by telephone, FPI spokesman Augustin Guehoun said that U.N. peacekeepers provided security for the rally, but armed intruders were able to gain access to the crowd, which had come to express support for Gbagbo.

"We had all the authorization (required to hold a rally) but we were aggressed. They started throwing stones then they began shooting," Guehoun said.

Gbagbo was held under house arrest for seven months after being toppled by Alassane Ouattara's forces. He was transferred to The Hague in November, where he is now awaiting trial for crimes against humanity committed by his army in the standoff that followed the 2011 election.

Although Gbagbo lost that election, he refused to cede power, forcing Ouattara to enlist the help of a rebel army which removed the former leader with the help of U.N. airstrikes.

Human rights groups say that abuses have been committed by both sides, and now that Gbagbo has been removed, the worst atrocities are being committed by Ouattara's armed forces, who are accused of massacres, rapes and summary executions of Gbagbo supporters.

By Salon Staff

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