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Ivorian forces executed 26 people in past month-UN

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 11 Aug 2011 17:21 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* President Ouattara under pressure to discipline forces

* Cases of rape, illegal detention also highlighted

ABIDJAN, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Ivorian forces have carried out 26 extrajudicial killings in the past month, the U.N. mission said on Thursday, a revelation likely to increase pressure on President Alassane Ouattara to discipline his troops and bring some commanders to justice.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission&${esc.hash}39;s human rights officer Guillaume Ngefa documented in a statement a number of abuses by pro-Ouattara forces between July 11 and Aug. 10, long after the country&${esc.hash}39;s conflict was supposed to have ended.

These included 85 illegal arrests and 11 rapes.

"The human rights situation remains precarious, despite an improvement in the security environment. A number of violations of human rights have been committed," by former rebels who helped Ouattara defeat his rival, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, he said.

Former rebels who controlled the north of the country since a failed coup attempt against Gbagbo in 2002 were instrumental in helping Ouattara seize power, after Gbagbo&${esc.hash}39;s refusal to step down despite losing an election in November.

The standoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara triggered a fresh civil war that killed at least 3,000 people and prompted more than a million to flee their homes between December and April.

"The human rights division has documented 26 cases of extrajudicial killings, 85 arbitrary arrests and 11 cases of rape," Ngefa said, adding that one of the victims was a 17-month old baby.

Much of the killing was carried out in the west, still a tinderbox of ethnic and land tensions.

Gbagbo was captured in April when French backed pro-Ouattara forces ousted him from his residence. He and a number of his close aides are now detained and awaiting trial for alleged war crimes such as ordering summary executions and kidnappings.

Critics complain that not one of Ouattara&${esc.hash}39;s men has been detained, despite evidence that they too committed abuses, which the U.N. statement suggests are continuing well into peacetime.

Ngefa said eight new mass graves had been unearthed in the Abidjan suburb of Yopougon, where some of the worst fighting during the crisis occurred, but it was not possible to tell how many bodies they contained. (Reporting by Tim Cocks)

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