United Nations (U.N.) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Liberia closed its border with Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday but did not confirm the claim by Abidjan that gunmen who killed seven United Nations peacekeepers, eight civilians and a soldier had come from its territory, reports Reuters.
Cote d’Ivoire Defence Minister, Paul Koffi Koffi said the raid on Friday afternoon highlighted the need for Ivorian troops to carry out cross-border operations in Liberia to improve security but Monrovia's government said no such plans were in place.
The United Nations said it was reshuffling some of its several thousand troops deployed in the zone to protect civilians in the border area. The bodies of its slain Nigerien troops reached Abidjan by late afternoon.
The attack highlights simmering tensions and security threats in the west of the world's top cocoa grower despite a year of progress that stabilised much of the rest of the country after months of post-election violence last year.
"These people came from the other side of the border. They are militias and mercenaries," Koffi Koffi said.
"We must go to the other side of the border to establish a security zone. We will clean up and secure the zone. This will be done, of course, with the agreement of the two countries."
Liberia's Information Minister, Lewis Browne told reporters in Monrovia that investigations were still on-going to determine where the attack came from.
"(But) the first measure will be the immediate closure of the Liberian side of the border with (Cote d’Ivoire)," he said.
Liberian Defence Minister, Brownie Samukai said there were no immediate plans for Ivorian troops to deploy inside his country.
Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia have generally had good relations and have in the past carried out joint patrols with U.N. peacekeepers along their border.
Koffi Koffi said the Ivorian and U.N. troops were responding to a suspected raid on a village 45 km south of the town of Tai, close to the border, when they were ambushed.