Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a military checkpoint and released more than 150 prisoners in a southern town in Ivory Coast amid a surge of attacks on the West African nation’s security forces this month.
Three attackers were found dead after gunfire from automatic weapons was heard throughout the night in Dabou, 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of the commercial capital, Abidjan, Ousmane Coulibaly, a military official, said by phone today. The gunmen broke down the doors of the local prison during the assault, allowing the prisoners to escape, he said.
The violence is extending a decade of conflict in the world’s biggest cocoa producer, that was sparked by a military mutiny in 2002 and culminated in a crisis that followed a November 2010 presidential election, which left more than 3,000 people dead.
A post in western Ivory Coast near the border with Liberia came under fire on Aug. 13., less than a week after at 10 soldiers were killed in two separate attacks on an army base and a police station in Abidjan.
Paul Koffi Koffi, minister delegate for defense, blamed last week’s attacks on supporters of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo, who is being held by the International Criminal Court in The Hague awaiting trial on charges of war crimes.