from ALEXIS DOUMBIA in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast Bureau
ABIDJAN, (CAJ News) – IVORY Coast has beefed up security for the 34th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), kicking off on Saturday.
Authorities are wary of a terrorist threat, particularly in the northern border areas of the West African country.
Burkina Faso and Mali, afflicted by Islamist insurgents, are Ivory Coast’s northern neighbours.
It is feared militants may attempt to carry out attacks in host cities during this eagerly-awaited tournament that is the biggest in the continent.
There have been no terror attacks outside the northern border areas since early 2016, when Islamist militants opened fire in Grand-Bassam resort near Abidjan, killing at least 19 people, including foreign nationals.
However, the government of President Alassane Dramane Ouattara is leaving nothing to chance.
At least 20 000 additional security personnel will be deployed during the popular tournament that runs until February 11.
Games by the host nation and 23 other teams are to be played in stadia in the capital, Abidjan, as well as Bouake, Korhogo, San and Yamoussoukro.
Officials are to heighten security at ports of entry, stadia, practice arenas and nearby hotels hosting visiting teams.
Checkpoints, additional patrols, and road closures are likely near these areas.
Roads are likely to be closed to facilitate the movement of teams, particularly on routes to stadiums on match days.
Ivory Coast hosted the then eight-team tournament in 1984, won by Cameroon.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and host nations prioritse security, particularly after terrorists attacked the Togolese team at the AFCON 2010 in Angola.
Three people- the team assistant coach, a journalist and the local bus driver- were killed and none others injured following the attack in the northern enclave of Cabinda.
– CAJ News