Three demobilised ex-rebel fighters were killed in Ivory Coast’s second-biggest city, Bouake, on Tuesday as they clashed with police attempting to end their protest over bonus payments, a policeman and a spokesman for the former fighters said.
The police source said another 20 people were being treated for injuries at the main hospital in Bouake, a city that has been at the centre of unrest this year caused by disgruntled soldiers and former combatants in a 2011 civil war.
Accounts differed concerning what happened when police moved in to clear the group of former fighters, who had been blocking traffic on the main road leading into the city.
One of the demobilised combatants had a grenade which exploded accidentally, killing three people at the scene and wounded more than 20.
Amadou Ouattara, a spokesman for the group, said policemen had fired teargas before shooting into the crowd of protesters.
“They were unarmed,” Ouattara said. An officer with the police in Bouake disputed that version however.
“One of the demobilised combatants had a grenade which exploded accidentally, killing three people at the scene and wounded more than 20,” said the officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press.