Notes from a friend in Abidjan, hastily translated from French, so please forgive my errors. I had edited out identifying information for obvious reasons:
I don't know about if this will be technically a genocide, but an aspect that is being missed is that the pro-Gbagbo camp is not in control of anything right now. The armed forces on the street are FRCI and civilians they have armed and they are extracting revenge at an alarming rate. The FDS and Gbagbo forces that are armed are mostly contained and surrounded by ADO forces in one or two tiny parts of the city. The FRCI have been looting our district like mad and banging on our door regularly trying to get inside since this morning. They have a roadblock set up right outside our gate. They completely looted many of our neighbors and are burning houses to the ground in retaliation. Ouattara has no control over many of them anymore at all. There is no central command. A prison was opened yesterday morning and all the 5,000 prisoners freed and armed many who then took revenge on the population.And a few hours later:
We saw them rushing into our neighbor's house yesterday, and then heard the wife screaming in agony for some time, their dog barking like mad. Then massive amounts of gunfire for several minutes. Then no other screams or barks since. We have tried to call them since, and there is no answer. We think they are dead. Similar happened at three other neighbors' houses. They are patrolling the streets and exacting revenge on any Bete or Lebanese they can find. We have seen bodies in the streets. Several execution style and can hear them laughing and taunting as they do so. A close friend of ours had to be evacuated from Zone 4 (heavily French area) this afternoon by the French. They were the last family left on their street. They told us yesterday that random thugs were waiting outside watching as the French were evacuating people, and then swooping in to loot the houses right after they left. Taking even floor tiles and wiring and roofing from the buildings and then burning what's left to the ground.
If it is to be a genocide here, I think it will now be from the FRCI side, as Ouattara has no control and many Dioula are angry and wanting revenge. The French and UN are basically saying they can't help a lot of people anymore. Many are dying right now. We have heard sustained gunfire since 5am yesterday morning. There have been obus incendiaries, RPGs and mortars heard as well fairly regularly. We also heard heavy bombing most of the day today from the downtown region, where they are attacking Gbagbo's palace.
Our water has been cut, and our power is intermittent. We have enough supplies for several months and are hiding out in a barricaded room in our house in darkness.
I hope that this insanity ends soon. It is absolute anarchy here right now.
Things are escalating rapidly. I think there will be revenge killings for a while. And if any pro-Gbagbo forces are able to muster any strength back -- they will try to return the revenge again. It is absolute slaughter and chaos here right now. I am hoping the worst is over-- at least I thought it would be this morning when I woke up-- but unless Ouattara somehow starts controlling the FRCI and his supporters-- I think it will continue for a while. And the way I see some of the Twittersphere egging the conflict on-- is worrisome. So much propaganda and cheering at the "democratization." SMS has been suspended (or at least ours is) so maybe this will stop some of the calls for violence, but cells are still working most of the time-- and almost everyone here has one-- so they can easily connect and find their opponents.I know all Texas in Africa readers join me in hoping that cooler heads will prevail, that leaders and fighters at every level will exercise restraint, and that Cote d'Ivoire will soon be at peace once more. You can donate to support UNHCR efforts here and to the Red Cross here. If you can't give, spare a thought or say a prayer for peace.
It is nearly 10:30pm right now, and we are under curfew-- and the firing has quieted down in the last hour or so. Still some sporadic. I just want to get information out there that things are getting real bad. Anyone on the streets is a target now. Anyone with visible lights or movement in their homes are a target. We have blanketed up all our windows and are hiding out in a room away from all outside walls now so no one can see us.
UPDATE: Chris Blattman posts an alternative view, and notes the importance of not taking a single account as being an account of what the entire situation is actually like. I agree completely - from what I can gather, there's considerable variation in the amounts of violence and who is committing acts of violence in Abidjan and across the south and east of Cote d'Ivoire.
That said, the above information comes from a reliable individual, and I have no doubt that this is an accurate reflection of what he/she is aware of, in the place that he/she is sheltering. I'll add that it's also increasingly clear that both sides - the pro-Gbagbo and the pro-Ouattara camps - are and have been committing acts of violence. It's also evident that some perhaps less-political individuals are taking advantage of the situation as an opportunity to loot and otherwise reap chaos.