Liberia arrests six over Ivory Coast border attack

Liberian troops have captured six men they believe carried out raids on border posts in neighboring Ivory Coast this week, Liberia’s defense minister said on Wednesday.

Gunmen attacked border checkpoints manned by the Ivorian military near the town of Toulepleu in Ivory Coast’s volatile western borderlands on Monday morning. The fighting lasted much of the day, and one Ivorian soldier was wounded.

Liberia dispatched troops to its side of the frontier during the clashes in an effort to contain the violence and arrested the men as they attempted to flee into Liberian territory.

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“These men were trying to enter Liberia illegally with their weapons when they were arrested. These men did not deny their involvement in the attack,” Defence Minister Brownie Samukai told Reuters.

“From the identities of the six men arrested … all of them are Ivorians. They are in detention, and the ministry of justice is working on the prosecution process,” he said.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower, has blamed fighters loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo for a series of attacks since June that have heightened fears of renewed insecurity a year after a brief civil war killed 3,000 people.

At least six soldiers died in attacks targeting security forces in Ivory Coast’s restive west, close to the border with Liberia, on December 2. Security sources and locals said the gunmen had attacked several army positions near the town of Grabo, in an area where ethnic tensions have spilled over into bloodshed numerous times in recent years. A similar attack in the same area in January in which around 20 unidentified gunmen targeted security forces left two soldiers dead.