ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Heavy gunfire erupted Saturday at a military camp in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city, and parts of the city center were on lockdown as officials grappled with an army mutiny that appeared to be gaining momentum.
Soldiers also fired their weapons for a second day in Bouake, Ivory Coast’s second-largest city, as well as in the western city of Man, witnesses said.
The unrest points to lingering security worries in Ivory Coast, which boasts Africa’s fastest-growing economy and is eager to move past its history of conflict.
Abidjan residents stocked up on food and water, citing fears the city would see more violence. The U.S. embassy advised staffers to keep off roads and to stay near their homes, while France advised restricting travel to the country’s interior and avoiding military camps in Abidjan.
In Man, civilians stayed indoors as soldiers cruised through the streets firing guns, resident Herve Singo said.
A similar scene played out in Bouake, where gunfire began at 3 a.m. and continued for several hours, taxi driver Moussa Fofana said.
Ouattara faced huge challenges in trying to create a unified army following the 2011 crisis, and there is still a clear lack of discipline, Cynthia Ohayon, a West Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group, said.
The government used payouts to appease soldiers after a revolt in 2014. Ohayon predicted a similar approach would be tried again, and she said it was important for the situation to be resolved quickly.
“The more it drags the more likely it is to get out of control,” she said.