MANY INJURED

The mutineers also attacked the headquarters of President Alassane Ouattara's ruling Rally of Republicans RDR party.

"Everyone who was there was badly beaten. There are many injured," party official Moriba Toure told AFP

Korhogo residents had gathered to protest against the mutiny but were dispersed by the rebellious soldiers.

Troops have also rebelled in the central city of Daloa, a major trading hub in Ivory Coast's cocoa belt.

On Sunday, rebels took up positions on a roundabout in front of Bouake's police headquarters, shooting into the air to prevent residents gathering for a planned protest against their revolt.

INTEGRATED

"There's too much shooting this morning, it's practically impossible to go and attend mass. I'll pray with my family at home," local resident Jean Yves Kobena said.

Bouake was the epicentre of the mutiny in January by the former rebel soldiers who had been integrated into the army.

Negotiations Saturday between the rebels and military commanders in Bouake failed to end the blockade and the rebels warned they would fight back if the army tried to intervene.

"They can send whoever they want. We're ready," one of several masked soldiers at one checkpoint told AFP.

Many of the soldiers participated in the 2002 uprising aimed at bolstering support for Ouattara.

ELECTION

They also backed Ouattara against Ivory Coast's long-time leader Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept his defeat to Ouattara in a much-delayed 2010 presidential election.

The rebels controlled the northern half of Ivory Coast until 2011, and were later integrated into the army.

On Thursday, a soldier presented as a spokesman for some 8,400 former rebels said in a televised ceremony that they wished to apologise to President Ouattara for the mutiny and renounced the demand for huge payouts.

But this was largely viewed with scepticism in the former star French colony, which is slowly regaining its credentials as a West African powerhouse and a haven of peace and prosperity.

Ivory Coast has an army numbering around 22,000 soldiers, but falling cocoa prices have severely crimped the government's finances.

Last year, the government unveiled an ambitious plan to modernise the military, part of which would involve the departure of several thousand men, particularly ex-rebels, who will not be replaced.

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