Schools in Ivory Coast’s second city remained closed again on Friday in protest over a violent attack by prison guards on students at a nearby university.
At least eight students were wounded on Wednesday evening, five of them by gunfire, when a group of prison wardens invaded a campus in Bouake and opened fire following a scuffle in a bar, the city prosecutor said.
CEECI, the national students union, put the figure at 11, saying some of them had been shot while other had sustained injuries “from knives or machetes”.
Two prison guards were also injured in the brawl.
Following the violence, the organisation blocked classes at two high schools and a number of primary schools, urging pupils to join them in a protest which extended into Friday.
CEECI is demanding the government relocate Bouake prison and its wardens’ lodgings which are situated opposite a campus of Alassane Ouattara University in the western part of the city.
“We have ordered the students and school children to go home. Classes will resume on Monday,” CEECI head Moustapha Ben Diomande said on Friday.
Students and local witnesses said Wednesday’s clashes pitted around 100 students against about 20 guards, who forced their way onto campus and began shooting.
“They were armed with kalashnikovs and machetes, we were just throwing stuff,” one student told AFP.
Speaking to AFP, sources from each side confirmed the incident began with a dispute in a bar between a student and a guard, which quickly spiralled.
The guards then went down to the campus, sparking clashes that only ended two hours later when the police and the army intervened.
Bouake, which is located in the centre of the country and has a population of a million, has a long history of instability.
Last year, it was seized by rebel soldiers during a mutiny over wages, and years before, it served as the rebel headquarters following a failed 2002 coup which split the country in half and led to years of unrest.