Several persons have been killed and a dozen others severely wounded in fresh ethnically motivated and religious tensions in the west of Ivory Coast.
Residents of Zouan-Hounien, a major trading hub in western Ivory Coast, were given a rude awakening on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, when members of the Yacouba ethnic group locked horns with their Dioula neighbors in reprisal attacks.
Well-placed sources in Zouan-Hounien, who prefer to remain anonymous, say it all started when a verbal dispute between a member of the Yacouba ethnic group and his Dioula counterpart became physical, resulting in the death of the Yacouba.
Striking back, young Yacouba men, heavily armed with machetes, randomly attacked and killed several Dioula. More than a dozen others were seriously wounded in the attacks. Also, several homes and mosques belonging to the Dioula were set ablaze during the violence.
Simmering tension between Ivory Coast’s Yacouba and Dioula still lingers, a major remnant of the country’s 2002 – 2007 civil war which claimed many lives on both sides. Liberian mercenaries were drawn into the fighting, taking sides with their Yacouba kinsmen.
Moreover, a 2011 electoral violence that further rocked the cocoa-growing west African state left deeply embedded hateful scars on both sides.
Though the guns have fallen silent, intense ethnic and religious rivalries continue to cripple possibilities of social cohesion across western Ivory Coast.
The country has a Muslim-dominated north and a predominantly Christian south. It also has more than 60 different ethnic groups.