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6 Filipino Soldiers Trapped in Ivory Coast
« on: April 11, 2011, 09:24:02 PM »
By Faye P. Velasco

The six Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers currently trapped in strife-torn Ivory Coast are safe.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) made the statement on Monday amid earlier reports, saying that the Filipino soldiers’ situation there was “unstable" as clashes continue to rage between forces of strongman Laurent Gbagbo and internationally-recognized leader Alassane Ouattara.

The DFA said Lieutenant Colonel George Tagle, one of the six AFP officers stationed there as observers assigned with the UN Operation in Cote D'Ivoire (UNOCI), informed them that he had evacuated from their bunker to a safer area while three of his fellow UNOCI Filipino observers are in areas controlled by supporters of opposition presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara.

The other two officers, who are deployed outside the UN headquarters are likewise safe.

Aside from Tagle, the five other Filipino soldiers in Ivory Coast are Navy Lcdr. Jorge Vicente, military lawyer Lt. Col. Emilio Felicen, Army majors Marces Gayat and Arthur Romanillos, and Air Force Maj. Randy Bance.

Côte d'Ivoire has been plunged into turmoil following incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat on the November 28, 2010 second round of elections to his opponent, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara.

The international community has strongly backed the legitimacy of Ouattara's victory, with the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union (EU) and others recognizing him as the duly elected leader of Côte d'Ivoire.

On March 30, 2011, the Security Council passed resolution 1975 (2011), repeating its calls for Gbagbo to step down and urging an immediate end to the violence against civilians.

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