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The house of a former prime minister of Ivory Coast has been burnt down during clashes less than two weeks before bitterly contested elections.

It is not clear who was behind the attack on the residence of Pascal Affi Nguessan in his stronghold of Bongouanou. One of the town's schools was also destroyed, a teacher told the BBC.

Mr Nguessan and former President Henri Konan Bédié announced this week they would boycott the 31 October elections.

President Alassane Ouattara, vying for a third term in office, has rejected their demands to postpone the vote and hold talks. He initially said he would stand down but after his preferred successor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack in July, he reversed his position.

There are fears that the election could reignite conflict in the country, which is slowly recovering from a civil war sparked by a dispute over the 2010 election, won by Mr Ouattara.

Friday's clashes between rival groups of supporters in Bongouanou, about 200km (125 miles) north of the country's main city, Abidjan, came a day after official campaigning began.

At least two people were killed, according to witnesses cited by the AFP news agency. Mr Nguessan told AFP: "People were transported from Abidjan. They targeted the property of opposition leaders."

The teacher said: "I saw people with machetes, knives attacking other people." "My school was burnt. They burnt everything there, all my personal belongings disappeared in the fire."

He spoke of other attacks on buildings and accused the police of not doing enough to prevent them. When contacted by the BBC, the police declined to comment.

Bongouanou Mayor Amalaman Gilbert told the BBC on Sunday that mediators were trying to ease tensions.


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