Friday, April 1, 2011

Swedish UN worker shot dead in Ivory Coast

This afternoon, I was saddened by news that a Swedish UN worker for the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) was shot dead in Abidjan as troops loyal to the internationally recognized President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, clashed with forces loyal to the illegitimate President Laurent Gbagbo.

The Swedish woman, identified as Zahra Abidi, 34, was reportedly shot and killed by a stray bullet yesterday - Thursday 31 March 2011 in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast.

It is worth mentioning that there has been a recent spike in violence against UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast. On 13 January 2011, pro-Gbagbo supporters attacked UN peacekeepers and burnt UN vehicles. On 28 March, a UN helicopter came under attack by pro-Ouattara forces.

The death of a UN worker as a result of the on-going power struggle in Ivory Coast resounds the need for all parties involved in the conflict to exercise restraint and stop killing civilians. Attacks against UN workers and civilians is a crime punishable under international law and perpetrators will be brought to book.

The noose is tightening on Laurent Gbagbo who refuses to cede power after losing the November 2010 presidential elections. International calls for him to step down have become louder and atrocities committed by his loyalists are well-documented. When it's all said and done, justice will take its course.

My thoughts and prayers go out to family and friends of the slain Swedish UN worker and all the numerous civilians who have been shot death in Ivory Coast since violence broke out following the disputed November 2010 presidential election.

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