ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Gunfire and continued threats by mutinous soldiers in several cities in Ivory Coast led banks, schools and businesses to close Monday amid fears of fighting.
Former rebels who joined the army and demand bonuses shot gunfire into the air, taking over strategic parts of Yamoussoukro, San-Pedro, Bouake and Abidjan.
The army chief of staff said a military operation was in progress to combat the mutinous soldiers, specifically in their stronghold Bouake. On Sunday, he had called on them to disarm, and said those who continue to threaten civilians and defy authorities will face disciplinary action.
“We are waiting for the state to reassure us, but we see no one yet. This silence is worrying for us,” said Sory Bamba, a taxi driver in Abidjan’s commercial district.
Violence by some of the soldiers involved in a January mutiny demanding higher pay began Friday, a day after Ivorian television broadcast their colleagues meeting with the president and dropping their demand for bonuses that have not been paid.
One person was killed Sunday when the mutinous soldiers used guns to disperse residents protesting their violence in Bouake. They had been forced to flee or stay indoors because of the violence.
The mutinous soldiers are former rebels who helped put President Alassane Ouattara in power after his predecessor refused to leave office after losing the 2010 election. They were integrated into the army and represent some 8,400 soldiers of the more than 20,000 members of Ivory Coast’s army.
In January their mutiny led to an agreement to pay them bonuses, but they haven’t yet received the full settlements.