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Côte d'Ivoire: Who Killed the Seven Women Protestors? (Videos)

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

Unrest between supporters of Cote d'Ivoire's two opposing leaders, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, has taken a further violent turn. Since December 3, 2011, both politicians have claimed to have won the November 2010 presidential election.

Ivorian women have held demonstrations against the political situation since February 25, 2011.

Bloody Thursday

What was supposed to be a peaceful march ended up as a bloodbath on Thursday March 3, 2011. During an all female protest organised in Abobo, a pro-Ouattara district of economic capital Abidjan, seven women were shot dead, apparently by Gbagbo's national Defense and Security Forces.

Videos of the gunfire rapidly spread online via video sharing service Youtube.

Youtube user Dreamdav posted a seven minute long video, in which unarmed women can be seen chanting “ADO” (Alassane Dramane Ouattara), when suddenly (at 3:32), national police tanks shoot at the demonstrators, dispersing them and forcing them to seek shelter.

Other citizen videos posted show the same incident (WARNING: GRAPHIC).

This video posted by SuperDjatou and shot by a protestor within the crowd shows the confusion a few seconds after the gun shots:

Another video shows four dead bodies lying on the ground:

Sadness and anger are just some of the feelings being shared by Ivorians netizens and others in the wake of the attack. Here are some of the reactions from social microblogging network Twitter, sent to the hashtag being used for the unrest, #civ2010.

@KDGF2505 replying to another Twitter user says:

narrow-minded are ones killing innocent women…do you think that hatred can be stopped in that way?

@SenamBeheton, a Twitter user from Benin names the 7 dead women “martyrs”:

La boucherie d'Abobo (8 martyres) est une erreur grave que Gbagbo regrettera.

Abobo slaugther (8 martyrs) is a serious mistake that Gbagbo will regret.

@kanazan reminds us that International women day is arriving soon and wonders:

comment celebrerons nous le 8 mars en? #civ2010 femmes abattues …

How will we celebrate March 8 in Côte d'Ivoire? women killed..

Pointing Blame

In an article [fr] published on the website of French daily paper Liberation, a source claims that the people who shot the women were in a 4×4 vehicle. When contacted via email, the journalist behind the article, Thomas Hofnung, confirmed that the source is reliable.

According to another testimony by a military source to a Reuters journalist, it was an accident:

Une source militaire a confirmé la fusillade en expliquant qu'il s'agissait d'un accident justifié par la «nervosité des forces de sécurité à la suite de précédents accrochages»

A military source confirmed the gunfire explaining that it xas an accident justified by the “nervosity of Forces of Security following previous clashes”

Another version of the facts was shared on Laurent Gbagbo's fan page on social network Facebook. According to this interpretation, these women were killed by rebels loyal to Prime Minister Guillaume Soro's Forces Nouvelles (New Forces), who in turn are loyal to President Ouattara:

Des femmes de la commune d’Abobo qui ont décidé de marcher hier (3 mars 2011) matin, ont essuyé des tirs des éléments de la rébellion de ladite commune.

Women of Abobo who decided to march yesterday (March 3, 2011) in the morning, were shot by rebellious elements.

Today, Notre Voie, one of the main daily newspapers in Côte d'Ivoire, accused the mysterious ‘Invisible Commandos‘ – a group of pro-Ouattara masked men – of the killings. In an unequivocal frontpage headline, the newspaper writes: ‘”The Invisible Commandos” Kill Seven Women’.

'"The Invisible Commandos" Kill Seven Women'. Frontpage of Ivorian newspaper Notre Voie, N° 3822, Friday 4 March, 2011.
Notre Voie N° 3822 du Friday mars 04 2011

The same denial has been aired on the national television station RTI: Côte d'Ivoire army spokeperson, Colonel Major Hilaire Babri Gohourou has said [fr]:

les troupes sont restées stationnées dans leur cantonnement d'Abobo.

the troops were confined in their headquater in Abobo

DjibiTV [fr], a web television station reputed to belong to one of Laurent Gbagbo's daughters, Marie Patrice Gbagbo, maintains this version:

Des femmes qui marchaient pacifiquement ont essuyé des tirs de cette force négative [le commando invisible ndlr] qui ont fait une diziane de morts. Cet acte s’est déroulé dans la commune d’Abobo où est logé la rébellion d’Alassane Ouattara qui tue et égorge les paisibles populations.

Women who were marching peacefully were shot by this dark force [the ‘Invisible Commandos’] who killed dozens of people. This happened in Abobo where Alassane's Ouattara rebellion is headquartered, killing and cutting the throats of peaceful people.

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

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