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Ivory Coast Rebels Suffer Losses, Government Says

October 01, 2002|From Associated Press

YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast — Government soldiers claimed Monday that they had inflicted heavy losses on rebel forces in Ivory Coast, while French troops in jeeps with mounted guns scoured the countryside in search of isolated Westerners who might need rescue in case of all-out war.

Trying to avert a bloody showdown, West African foreign ministers flew into the commercial capital, Abidjan, on Monday to talk with the rebels and try to persuade them to agree to a cease-fire.

Mediators included foreign ministers from Nigeria, Ghana and Togo. The delegation planned to meet with the shadowy rebels, Ghanaian Foreign Minister Hackman Owusu-Agyeman said, confirming that the envoys had managed to identify those they believe are leading the insurgency.

Launching their rebellion with a bloody coup attempt Sept. 19, rebels took and held control of the central city of Bouake and of Korhogo in the north. Insurgents since have grabbed other cities, splitting what was once one of West Africa's most stable nations into rebel- and loyalist-held zones.

Western military officials on Monday reported clashes across the north, with one front line around Tiebissou, north of Yamoussoukro, the capital.

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