Police chief's home ransacked, set on fire
Everything went up in flames on Friday, December 17th. As they had done for several days previously, young supporters of Ouattara were blocking the main roads of the town centre with pieces of wood and tyres. Around 11 a.m., a dozen policemen arrived on a brand new pick-up to disperse them with tear-gas grenades. One of these exploded near the little mosque where tens of Muslims were praying. Carried by the wind, the gas swiftly dispersed them. Spread by mobile phones, the rumour of an "attack on Muslims" inflamed emotions in the African town.
Police and riot police reinforcements were sent from Abidjan. But they were unable to prevent the home of the chief of police from being ransacked and set on fire. The man, due to retire at the end of the month, had previously sent his family to safety in Moossou. His mother, however, had remained in the house and only just escaped the flames.
"On Saturday morning, there was a curfew in broad daylight", explains a policeman. "My colleagues who had come from Abidjan were very angry. They belong to the same [police training academy class] year as the three policemen killed a couple of days earlier in Abobo railway station". Abobo is a quarter of Abidjan. "They broke down doors, notably in search of the fetish-man who had defied them the day before," he said. "Finally they arrested three youths and took them to the police station".
"At the entrance of my quarter they shot into the air to scare us," contines Diallo. "Old Dioula women [Dioula is the generic term used to designate northern ethnic groups], stripped naked to curse them. They headed towards the police station to demand their children be released. One policeman responded by dropping his pants. The women were dispersed. Since then the demonstrations have stopped. But it's still bubbling away underneath".
A pro-Gbagbo woman confides: "Us, we watch them dither. For the moment, we've hit the pause button. They've played their first half. We're waiting for the second, if there is one."