Ivory Coast special forces mutiny over pay in Adiake

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Soldiers of Ivorian special forces drive through the city of Adiake, eastern Ivory Coast, February 2017Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Members of the special forces are rarely seen in public and considered loyal to the government

An elite unit of soldiers in Ivory Coast has mutinied, firing into the air at their base in the south-eastern town Adiake, near the border with Ghana.

Residents have stayed indoors and shops and schools have closed.

The Ivorian special forces, who report directly to the president's office, have accused their commanders of stealing part of their salaries.

It comes a month after regular soldiers staged a mutiny over pay and conditions.

"Gunfire began earlier in the special forces' camp and then the town began panicking as armed soldiers left the barracks," a high school teacher told the Reuters news agency.

The BBC's Alex Duval Smith in the main city of Abidjan says the special forces number up to 800, are rarely seen in public and are considered loyal to the government.

A delegation from the chief of staff's office has flown by helicopter to the base to negotiate with the commandos, she says.

Local media reports one soldier as saying that he has received only $80 (£64) of his $400 monthly salary.

Adiake is home to a maritime base that trains commandos and provides coastal surveillance.

Last month, the government agreed to the demands of the other mutinous soldiers, some of whom were former rebels who backed President Alassane Ouattara.

But the payout has angered other segments of the military, raising fears of a resurgence of the violence seen during Ivory Coast's 10-year civil war, which ended in 2011.

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