Gunmen free Ivorian prisoners near Abidjan

Aug. 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Armed fighters stormed a prison near the commercial capital of Ivory Coast and freed more than 150 prisoners, a military official confirmed Friday.

Ousmane Coulibaly, a military official from Ivory Coast, confirmed to Bloomberg News that gunmen stormed the entrance to a prison about 30 miles from Abidjan, freeing more than 150 prisoners. Officials discovered the bodies of three attackers in the aftermath of the assault.

Ivorian forces were attacked at military installations near Abidjan this week. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country said militants made off with weapons from the armory near a military base.

Authorities told Bloomberg this week that fighters loyal to former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo were suspected of waging recent attacks.

Ivorian conflict has escalated since the International Criminal Court postponed a hearing for Gbagbo until issues surrounding his health are resolved.

The court said there are "reasonable grounds" to believe Gbagbo bears criminal responsibility "as an indirect co-perpetrator" on four counts of crimes against humanity, including rape and murder.

Ivory Coast was pushed to the brink of civil war following disputed 2010 presidential elections that saw Alassane Ouattara emerge victorious over Gbagbo.

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