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Mass Grave Discovered in Toe Town

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A mass grave containing scores of dead bodies was discovered last Saturday near a populated market ground in Toe’s Town, Grand Gedeh County.

According to our correspondent in the region, the uncounted bodies of men, women and children were uncovered when some family members decided to dig their house’s foundation where the burial took place.

Our reporter Johnson Sharty in Toe’s Town said the huge skeletons of the dead have been taken for re-burial at a near-by site.

Johnson said the area where the mass grave was discovered was once a feared battle ground for the control of the border town (Toe Town) between MODEL (Movement for Democracy in Liberia) and government troops then loyal to President Charles Taylor during the 2003 war.

The discovery of the grave is an evidence of the uncounted numbers of atrocities committed by warring factions during the Liberian civil war in other part of the country.

Meanwhile, current tense fighting in the Ivorian capital Abidjan has brought political and ethnic divisions among Ivoirians seeking refuge here. According to our correspondent in Toe Town, the tens of thousands of Ivoirian who are taking-up shelters within various communities mainly in Toe’s Town, Grand Gedeh  County came from regions of south, central and east and are supporting Laurent Gbagbo’s presidency.

Gbagbo, 65, hails from Gagnoa in the west-central region of Ivory Coast and he is from the Bete (Grebo) tribe. But our reporter said some of the refugees are not happy with some of their kinsmen who are supporting northerner,  Ouattara, 68, and of the Dioula (Mandingo) tribe, whose rebels have advanced on the capital, Abidjan to force Gbagbo out.

As a result, confusion broke out last Saturday in Toe Town on the Commissioner’s Compound where most of the refugees have been encamped by UNHCR. This followed media reports that Alassene Ouattara’s rebel forces have allegedly killed over 800 civilians in one village in Duekue in central Ivory Coast, last Tuesday.

Some couples and family members, who are connected to the two claimants of the disputed elections either by politics or ethnicity, said that there was separation (divorce) of their relations due to the ongoing conflict that is affecting every part of Cote D’Ivoire.

As a result of these divisions, some families left the UNHCR control camp claiming that those who they are sharing house with were supporting Alassene Ouattara’s rebels, who have been accused of civilian massacre.

Our correspondent said this have prompted some of the refugees, mainly male  return to Ivory Coast to defense Gbagbo. Such politicking, our reporter said is common among the Ivoirians (refugees) as divorce (s) have begun taking place whenever couple disagree with each other on political camp.

Ivory Coast was for many years West Africa’s richest country and so acted as a magnet for immigrants from its poorer neighbors, such as Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Ghana and Mali – at one point, a third of the people in Ivory Coast were foreigners, and many were Muslim. Many more Ivoirians have family ties across the borders too drawn by colonial powers which do not respect the social and cultural reality on the ground.

Many of the millions of people saw the constitutional changes as a move to discriminate against them and voted for Ouattara Rally of Republicans Party (RDR). But as the economy began to decline, the largely Christian peoples of the centre, east and south of Ivory Coast, who had dominated the country since independence, began to resent such a large foreign presence.

By Johnson Sharty, Grand Gedeh County

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