Forces loyal to Alassane Ouatarra, the Côte d’Ivoire opposition leader who claimed victory in last November’s presidential election, said the mass graves they uncovered in Duékoué, a large town in the Côte d’Ivoire’s west near Liberia, are filled with the bodies of civilians massacred by soldiers or militias loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president who says he won in November. They said there were about 800 victims.
However, a Catholic humanitarian organization, Caritas, which had observers in Duékoué, noted that the Ouatarra forces controlled the town when the killings occurred. After some denials, the spokesman for the Ouatarra forces, Guillaume Soro, said there would be an investigation. By then the count was over 1,000 and rising.
Similar discoveries have been reported elsewhere in the country.
Monitors and observers working for the United Nations and human rights watchdogs have backed up several of the mass graves reports, usually with the caveat that they could not establish court-room type proof of the perpetrators. Some of the atrocities have been reported by the Ouatarra forces, some by the Gbagbo ones.
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