Abidjan residents emerge to pray, get food, water

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Residents of Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan braved sporadic shooting and ventured out on Sunday to pray, get water and buy food after being trapped in their homes during three days of intense fighting.

Forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and those of his rival, presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara, have battled in Abidjan neighborhoods but local people took advantage of a relative lull on Sunday.

“Many people went to church to pray to God to stop the war in the country,” said Sylvie Monnet, a resident of Yopougon, a neighbourhood north of central Abidjan.

Some residents had little choice but to venture out. “We have nothing more to eat at home. I have just a single fresh fish at home and after that, I do not know what to do. It is really difficult,” Pamela Somda, a student told Reuters TV.

Local people feared that violence in the five month crisis that has rekindled a 2002-2003 civil war could flare up again. “We are scared. We came out in the neighbourhood to see friends and buy food,” said Emile Kouassi in the Deux Plateaux district.

In the central business district, which is usually packed with shops and hawkers, Reuters TV crew saw a few women with bowls on their heads fetching water.

The fighting has hit supplies to the city and traders reported shortages of basic necessities. “We ordered the goods but it has not yet come. We do not know when they will come,” said Sidi Mohamed Aida, a trader. “Suppliers said the routes are dangerous but if things were to calm down, they will send the supplies.”

(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly and Alain Amontchi, Writing by Bate Felix)

Abidjan residents emerge to pray, get food, water