Shelter for fleeing Ivorians set ablaze in west

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 20, 2012 8:22 AM
Shelter for fleeing Ivorians set ablaze in west

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Angry mobs set fire to a U.N.-guarded camp for civilians forced from their homes in western Ivory Coast on Friday in what witnesses said was a reprisal for an overnight robbery in a nearby town that killed five people.

The Naibly camp holds 5,000 Ivorians who fled their homes during last year's civil conflict and is near the town of Duekoue where local police official said the robbery took place.

"This morning something like 3,000 people descended on the Niably camp to look for their goods and search for the thieves, and they set fire to the camp, starting with the health center," Ann Encontre, head of the U.N. refugee arm UNHCR in Ivory Coast said by telephone.

The extent of casualties was not immediately clear.

The camp is managed by the UNHCR and partner agencies. A detachment of armed peacekeepers from Ivory Coast's U.N. peacekeeping mission, UNOCI, was deployed in Niambly to protect the camp's residents.

Ivory Coast's civil war, which erupted after then president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat at the poll in late 2010, killed around 3,000 people and forced one million to flee their homes.

Although much of the country is rebouding from the conflict, tension remains high in the west and there have been a number of cross-border raids by Gbagbo supporters who fled across the nearby border to Liberia.

(Reporting by Joe Bavier and Ange Aboa; editing by Mark John)