Hundreds of French soldiers have or are due to arrive in Ivory coast to re-inforce a 10,000 strong peacekeeping mission as violence there escalates. Pro-government mobs have been on the rampage, looting and destroying property and attacking French citizens.
Tensions were inflamed by reports that French troops had killed 30 Ivorian protesters. Paris denied the reports and officials now only speak of two possible deaths. Ivory coast is effectively split in two since a ceasefire deal last year. Rebels control the north, the government the south. On Saturday Ivorian fighter jets killed nine French peacekeepers and an American civilian near the town of Bouake. They said they had meant to target rebel positions. In retaliation France destroyed Ivorian airpower. The French Prime Minster has expressed his sadness at the deaths of French soldiers ; he said that they were there to protect and to stop a civil war. He added that they were on a mission of peace, making the turn of events particularly cruel. The French region of Poitiers has been the hardest hit by the peace keepers deaths. Five of the soldiers came from the barracks based there. They had only arrived in Ivory coast last month.