- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2002

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast France sent reinforcements and helicopters to the Ivory Coast yesterday to protect Westerners in the former French colony after a coup attempt threatened to tear apart West Africa's one-time economic powerhouse.
While the government readied a counterattack against rebels leading the country's bloodiest military uprising, thousands of people in Bouake, a central city controlled by coup forces, marched to declare allegiance to the insurgents.
"We are armed to the teeth, and there is no going back," said a rebel commander with the nom de guerre Samsara 110, speaking from Korhogo, a rebel stronghold in the predominantly Muslim north.
President Laurent Gbagbo's government has pledged an imminent offensive to drive out the insurgents.
More than 100 American schoolchildren were caught up in the activity in Bouake, the country's second-largest city.
"We have approximately 160 U.S. citizens on this campus, mostly children," Michel Cousineau, business manager and security officer at the International Christian Academy, told Reuters news agency by phone from the city. The pupils in the boarding school included children of missionaries working across West Africa.
French transport helicopters and a reported 100 French troops landed in Abidjan, the commercial capital, early yesterday to reinforce the about 600 troops stationed there. France said it deployed the troops to protect the nation's 20,000 French citizens and other Westerners.

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