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Five killed in Ivory Coast

Abidjan - Gunmen killed at least five people in an overnight attack on a border town in south-western Ivory Coast, humanitarian and military officials said on Wednesday.

Unidentified armed men burned houses, looted shops and terrorised villagers during the two-hour assault on the remote town of Sakre on the country's western border with Liberia.

“There were five or six killed. Around 2 000 people have fled,” an aid worker operating in the area told Reuters, asking not to be named.

It was the third such attack in the forested Tai region since September and came a day after Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wrapped up a tour of the volatile west aimed at healing divisions in the world's top cocoa producer following a four-month civil war last year.

An army officer, who also asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the press, confirmed the attack and put the death toll at seven.

Others were wounded and military authorities have arrested several men suspected of involvement in the raid, he said.

Tens of thousands of Ivorians, including armed militiamen loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo, fled across the border into Liberia as fighting, stoked by ethnic tensions and long-standing land disputes, engulfed western Ivory Coast.

During his trip, Ouattara called upon the refugees to return home but warned that those responsible for crimes during the post-election conflict would face justice. - Reuters

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