Gunmen in deadly attack on Ivory Coast security targets

ABIDJAN Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:25am EST

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked military and police targets around Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan before dawn on Friday, killing at least one person, the U.N. mission in the West African country said.

In the latest of a string of deadly raids this year, the mission said gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and Kalashnikov assault rifles had attacked a gendarmerie in the Abidjan suburb of Yopougon at 3:45 am (0345 GMT) and had killed a prisoner being held there.

Gunmen had also attacked an army checkpoint in Agbaou, wounding two soldiers, it said in a press release.

Later in the morning, gunmen raided the Azito power station in Abidjan, a worker at the plant and a nearby resident said, asking not to be named. The worker told Reuters that nine people had been killed in that assault.

Government and military officials in the cocoa-producing country declined to comment.

Ivory Coast has been hit by a wave of deadly attacks since August.

Supporters of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo, who was ousted in a 2011 civil war, are suspected of being behind the attacks. A U.N. report in October said it believed Gbagbo supporters responsible for the attacks had established an operations base in neighboring Ghana.

Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity after a war last year in which more than 3,000 people were killed.

The government of President Alassane Ouattara is struggling to reunite the country and to rebuild the economy, that was once an engine of growth for French-speaking West Africa.

In a move that could ease tensions, nine Gbagbo allies arrested in the wake of the conflict - including former Prime Minister Gilbert Ake N'Gbo - have been released on bail pending trial, Noel Dje, a prosecutor, said on Friday.

The defendants were accused of joining Gbagbo's illegal government after he lost an election in 2010 and refused to step down.

"This decision does not affect our orders to pursue justice," Dje said.

(Reporting by Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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