Massé, a correspondent for the private daily Le Courrier
d’Abidjan, was fatally shot while covering violent clashes between
French troops and demonstrators in the western Ivoirian town of Duékoué,
his editor told CPJ.
Le Courrier d’Abidjan Editor Théophile Kouamouo told
CPJ that Massé was among several people killed during a demonstration
by the pro-government group Young Patriots, which opposed the movement
of French peacekeeping troops from the west to the commercial capital,
Abidjan. The demonstration came amid several days of violence in the
former French colony during which dozens were killed and many more
injured and displaced.
The turmoil began November 6 after an Ivory Coast air strike against
French peacekeepers killed nine soldiers and a U.S. aid worker. France,
which had been overseeing a fragile cease-fire between rebel and government
forces, retaliated by destroying the country’s military aircraft–sparking
an uprising by loyalist youths in the south who took to the streets
armed with machetes, iron bars, and clubs. France and other nations
began evacuating thousands of foreigners as a result.
Kouamouo, whose newspaper is considered sympathetic to President Laurent
Gbagbo’s Ivoirian Patriotic Front party, claimed that French troops
had opened fire during the November 7 clash in Duékoué.
French military officials did not comment directly on Massé’s
death, although French Gen. Henri Bentegeat acknowledged that his
soldiers had opened fire in certain cases to hold back violent mobs,
the Associated Press reported.