Concern at Saudi envoy's murder.
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|Fri, 03-28-2003 - 12:03pm|
The ambassador of Saudi Arabia has been found murdered in Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan.
Diplomats believe it was not politically motivated, but mystery still surrounds the motives for the killing.
The dead ambassador, Mohammed Ahmed Rasheed, was found naked, bathing in a pool of blood, in the stairwell of a towering apartment block in downtown Plateau this morning.
Although he lived on the 17th floor of the skyscraper, his body was found two floors down, and he appears to have been killed outside the flat.
One of his neighbours told me the apartment was spotless, while the corridor and stairwell were stained in blood.
One witness said he had three injury marks on his head, as if he had been hit with a heavy object.
However, earlier reports said his throat had been slit.
Dozens of police were quick to cordon off the area, and blocked journalists from seeing more.
Strangely, none of the neighbours heard any sounds last night, although most of the flats on his floor are inhabited.
Mr Rasheed had been due to dine with the Algerian ambassador last night, but cancelled at the last minute.
Mysteriously, the building suffered a rare power failure around the same time, between 2000-2100, and residents say that the sound of the generators kicking in was so loud that they could not even hear their own television sets, let alone noises from outside.
The tower block is in one of the most secure areas of Abidjan, next door to the American embassy, with private security guards manning every entrance.
None of them appears to have seen anything suspicious.
The evening curfew was recently put back from 10pm to midnight, until 0600.
In a mark of the seriousness with which the murder is being taken by authorities, Prime Minister Seydou Diarra, foreign minister Mamadou Bamba, and Security Minister, Fofana Zemogo, all visited the scene of the crime this morning.
A few hours later the government pledged on state television that it would find the culprits.
It also lamented that every time Ivory Coast tried to find a way out of crisis, something happened to blemish its image.
Mr Rasheed only arrived in Ivory Coast last December, three months after the armed rebellion which has split the country in two.
The crisis has also led to increasing security concerns, provoking many foreign embassies, the African Development Bank and the United Nations to evacuate staff.
This latest incident will do nothing to encourage them to come back.