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Ouattara, Macron Pay Tribute To Victims Of 2004 Bombing In Cote D’Ivoire

French President Emmanuel Macron and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara pictured at the airport in Abidjan on December 20, 2019. Luc Gnago, Reuters

The presidents of France and Cote D’Ivoire paid tribute Sunday to the victims of a 2004 bombing during the Ivorian Civil War that killed nine French soldiers and an American civilian.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, joined by their wives, observed a moment of silence in front of a high school in the city of Bouake that served as a French military base at the time.

Macron said Saturday that the ceremony would mark another step toward reconciliation in Cote D’Ivoire. The country, a former French colony, was split into a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south during the 2002-2007 war.

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The French soldiers and the American civilian were killed during a November 2004 airstrike by Cote D’Ivoire’s air force.

France accuses the Belarussian pilot and two Ivorian co-pilots who carried out the bombing of murder and attempted murder. A trial is to begin in France next year but the three defendants will not be there because international warrants for their arrests were never carried out.

The American victim, Robert Carsky, 49, grew up in Syracuse, N.Y. and spent most of his adult life working in West Africa as a soil scientist and crop researcher.

Later Sunday, Macron and Ouattara laid the first stone of a modern building that will house a market in Bouake.

Macron is scheduled to continue a three-day visit to West Africa that started Friday with a brief stop in Niger, where he is to discuss with President Mahamadou Issoufou about rising violence by Islamic extremists.

The French leader is due to return to France on Sunday night.

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Written by PH

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