Guinean soldiers occupy Ivorian village in border dispute

Soldiers from Guinea have occupied a village in Ivory Coast as a decades-old border dispute flares up, Ivorian security sources said Monday.

An Ivorian soldier in the area told AFP, when reached by telephone from Abidjan, that "around 50 Guinean soldiers armed with Kalashnikovs" took over the village of Kpeaba.

Kpeaba lies close to the town of Sipilou, around 15 kilometres (nine) from Ivory Coast's border with Guinea.

"They have taken down the Ivorian flag and raised the Guinean one," said the soldier with the FRCI, the Ivorian army.

"The situation is tense, a contingent of FRCI troops is stationed seven kilometres" from Kpeaba, he said.

A member of the Ivorian police force said "the incursion and occupation date from the beginning of February."

The source added that the Guineans had ousted the Ivorian village chief and brought in their own on Saturday.

The dispute between the two former French colonies dates back to the days of independence, he said.

Guinea gained independence from France in 1958 and Ivory Coast followed suit in 1960.

"A joint Ivorian-Guinean commission is needed to settle this dispute" and "demarcate definitively this part of the border," the police source said.

The western region of Ivory Coast is the most unstable in the country.