Source: | Abe Telegbe, Cote D’Ivoire

The Police Commissioner of Beoumi, two of his men and three gendarmes last night received gunshot wounds in the line of duty during clashes between taxi drivers and motor cyclists at Beoumi in central Cote D’Ivoire.

Beoumi was thrown into turmoil when the taxi drivers and commercial motorbike riders believed to belong to two different ethnic groups, Dioula and Baoulé, started a brawl at the Massa taxi station about one group taking over the other group’s business.

According to a resident of Beoumi, the taxi (Massa) drivers accused the motor riders of taking their customers so they warned them not to access the taxi station.

In the course of the exchanges, one young Baoulé taxi driver went to the Police Station to report and explain the situation. En route, he was accosted and brutally slashed with a machete by another young man from the Massa station.

Another witness said “everything started around 9am. There was a crowd and loud voices. The fight started in front of me. I did not approach to know the reasons. But two groups of young people were struggling.”

Then she continued her story saying: “The situation quickly degenerated when a rumor seized the city. A native would have died in the clashes. True or false, I do not know. But that made things worse. The market was then ransacked. We closed everything and went back to the house. As I speak to you, the city is on fire. A marquis located behind the town hall was set on fire. The situation is worrying. We holed up at home. We are scared”.

The police eventually intervened and that worsened the situation. The police exchanged gunshots with the civilians. It was brutal. The Police Commissioner himself was shot twice in the leg and his back, two other policemen and three gendarmes called to reinforce from Bouake and Sakassou also received bullets. They have since been evacuated to the University Hospital Center (CHU) of Bouake for proper treatment.

In addition to the bullet wounds recorded in the ranks of the police, several civilians were also wounded by bullets.

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