New York, October 16, 2002—A group of about 50 people today looted and ransacked the offices of the private Mayama media group, publisher of three Ivory Coast pro-opposition newspapers, said several sources in the capital, Abidjan. The mob smashed computers and other equipment and damaged printing presses while chanting pro-government slogans.

The newsrooms of Le Patriote and Tassouman, both daily newspapers, and the weekly Abidjan Magazine were destroyed in the mayhem. All three are close to the opposition Rally of the Republicans, a party led by former prime minister Allassane Ouattara, whom some state officials suspect may be behind the bloody military uprising, which began on September 19 in the northern part of the country.

No one was hurt in the attack since the news staff of the three papers, long accused by the government of working to destabilize the country with biased reporting, have been working from home since the crisis started.

The military standoff has pitted a group of disgruntled soldiers from Ivory Coast’s Muslim north against troops loyal to the government, which is mostly staffed by southern Christians.

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating a report in the October 11 edition of the French evening daily Le Monde alleging that the rebellious soldiers, known as the Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement, kidnapped Christophe Koffi, a reporter for Agence France-Presse. Accused of being a spy for the Ivory Coast government, Koffi was interrogated by rebel chief Ibrahim Coulibaly before he was released a day later.