Liberians Attacked in Abidjan, Mercenaries Reported
Oct 27, 2000

Reports of Liberian mercenary involvement in the ongoing crisis in the Ivory Coast are emerging.

Reliable sources in Abidjan told The Perspective that an alleged Liberian mercenary, holed up in the basement of the presidential quarters in defense of ousted military dictator Gen. Robert Guei, was arrested by angry crowds and burnt alive. Other reports say Liberians and Liberia-owned businesses have been attacked and looted in suburbs around the capital.

The BBC Tuesday reported circulating information of Liberian mercenaries fighting to protect Gen. Guei who proclaimed himself winner in recent elections, but fled after several thousands angry people stormed the streets in protest. Sources added that soldiers who fired into the crowd killing several were Liberians.

Many Liberians are said to have gathered in churches for safety against angry Ivorian mobs. In the working class area of Koumasi, Ivorians nearly burnt a hotel believed to have been housing Liberian mercenaries.

"We are living in fear. Ivorians are looking out for Liberians because they believe Charles Taylor has sent mercenaries to back Guei", said a frightened Liberian via telephone.

Prior to the elections, reliable but unconfirmed reports indicated Liberian mercenaries were involved in the alleged attacks on Gen. Guei's residence which he blamed on northern Army officers loyal to Opposition politician Alasane Quattara. Sources believe the attacks were masterminded and staged to implicate Quattara's men in an alleged plot.

Meanwhile, although many reports said Guei had left the country for Liberia or Benin, the Reuters reported the General was still in the Ivory Coast but not in Abidjan. The Times of London reported the besieged General was either in Liberia or Benin.

Relations between President Charles Taylor and Gen. Guei have been strong, although
former Ivorian Presidents Houphouet Boigny and Konan Bedie backed Taylor's rebellion which brought him to power. Upon seizing power, Guei traveled to Monrovia "to seek advice" from Taylor. Impressed with the meeting, he praised the former Liberian warlord for being a "great warrior."

The bulk of the men in Taylor's Army, made up his former rebels, are kinsmen of Gen. Guei's Yakuba tribe, known in Liberia as Gios.

Liberia, along with Burkina Faso, and in league with Libya, has been accused by Guinea and Sierra Leone of training mercenaries that have destabilized the two countries. Liberia denies the charges.