- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) - Ivory Coast’s U.N. peacekeeping mission plans to double its troop presence in the country’s northeast after clashes this month between farmers and herders killed at least 20 people and sent more than 1,000 fleeing into neighboring Burkina Faso, a U.N. spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Four hundred U.N. troops - up from 200 - will be stationed in the region of Bounkani along with reinforcements from Ivory Coast’s army, Kadidia Ledron said.

Ivorian state media on Monday quoted army chief of staff Gen. Soumaila Bakayoko as saying the number of Ivorian troops would climb from 500 to 700 in the region which is 600 kilometers (370 miles) north of Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial center.

This month’s violence is the latest related to long-running disputes over the use of land between farmers and livestock herders, Ledron said.

A U.N. delegation confirmed at least 20 dead in clashes which were first reported on March 18 and appear to have peaked on March 24, she said, adding that the situation is currently calm.

The violence took place in the town of Bouna and surrounding villages, according to a U.N. statement issued over the weekend.

A total of 1,312 people had fled into neighboring Burkina Faso as of Monday, said Yaya Sanou, high commissioner of Burkina Faso’s Noumbiel province.

Most of those who fled are women and children, and they are being processed at three different sites, Sanou said.

Around 100 people returned to Ivory Coast after calm had been restored, he said.


Associated Press writer Brahima Ouedraogo contributed to this report from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

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