Herald Scotland reported: A massacre in the sprawling Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekou in the heart of the Ivory Coast’s cocoa-producing region could come to be seen as a crucial moment in the West African state’s escalating civil war.
Reports are mounting of atrocities by both sides in the conflict: those loyal to head of state Laurent Gbagbo, besieged in his presidential residence in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, and those who follow northern leader and president-elect Allasane Ouattara.
Events at the Italian Salesian Roman Catholic mission (3rd April, 2011) in Duekoue increasingly echo a notorious church massacre during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Early reports suggested that more than 800 people, largely from the Gbagbo-supporting Gueré tribe, were killed in a single day at the Salesian mission in Duekoue, 300 miles west of Abidjan towards the Liberian border.
The attackers seem to have been largely soldiers descended from Burkina Faso immigrant Muslim families loyal to Ouattara.
Late yesterday the Roman Catholic charity Caritas said more than 1,000 people were massacred in Duekoue. A Caritas spokesman said Caritas workers visited the town and reported seeing a neighbourhood filled with bodies of people who had been shot and hacked to death with machetes.
Blogger Chonak says, I wonder why the mainstream press (BBC) hasn’t reported the religious angle of this: they’ve just presented it as Gbagbo (the incumbent) vs. Ouattara (the challenger who won the election, according to the UN). Nice and simple. Now it’s not so nice.”
Thousands of people left their homes to escape the fighting and an estimated 40,000 sought refuge in a nearby Roman Catholic mission’s compound. The priests who operate it are running short of food, clean water and medical equipment to treat those they say arrived with gunshot wounds.
The bodies are thought to be of those who did not reach sanctuary in time. They were killed despite 200 United Nations troops operating what it said were “robust” patrols from its base on the outskirts to protect civilians in and around the church.