TAI, Ivory Coast (Reuters) – The gunmen knew exactly who they were looking for when they entered Paul Kumbiamba’s village in western Ivory Coast and fired a rocket through the front door of his family’s home.
“They came into the courtyards of the houses and called out names. When the people inside came out, they killed them,” said the 22-year-old cocoa farmer, who with his mother escaped a June 12 raid that killed one brother and put another in hospital.
Many like Kumbiamba, who was born in Ivory Coast to parents from neighbouring Burkina Faso and is thus widely regarded as a foreigner, had been starting to feel the country’s dark days of xenophobia-charged politics were behind them.
Former President Laurent Gbagbo, whose decade-long regime treated the country’s immigrants as second-class citizens, was brought down in last year’s civil conflict and now awaits trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
The militias and foreign mercenaries he used to spread terror in the cocoa-rich west fled to neighbouring Liberia by the thousands.
But a series of cross-border attacks earlier this month that killed at least 23 people, including seven United Nations peacekeepers, have highlighted the lingering threat posed by the now-exiled former regime and driven a wedge between neighbours struggling to heal the wounds of the recent past. Read more…