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Almost 500 I.Coast prisoners start hunger strike

A national gendarmerie van carrying prisoners enters the gates of the Maison d'Arret et de Correction d'Abidjan (Maca), Ivory Coast's largest prison, on August 16, 2011Almost 500 people detained in Ivory Coast in the wake of the country’s 2010-2011 post-election bloodshed have gone on hunger strike to protest their continued detention, a source with the penitentiary system said Thursday. A total of about 480 are under medical observation after starting hunger strikes across the country, with about 70 prisoners taking part in Abidjan’s Maca facility, the prisons official told AFP, asking not to be identified. “The fundamental reason for the hunger strike apart from the long detention is our health which is deteriorating in the face of difficult conditions, and the breaking up of our families,” one prisoner at Abidjan’s Maca facility said. Ivory Coast plunged into violent political chaos in 2010-2011 after supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo fought with those of the winner in the November 2010 election, President Alassane Ouattara.

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