* U.N. peacekeepers, police present during raid on civilian
* Seven killed, 50 wounded in attack in volatile west
* U.N. mission says government responsible for security
DUEKOUE, Ivory Coast, July 24 (Reuters) - Victims of an
attack on a camp for displaced civilians in Ivory Coast have
accused armed U.N. peacekeepers of failing to protect them
during a raid that killed seven and wounded more than 50.
The United Nations and the government, which also had
security forces at the camp during last week's attack, have
traded blame over the incident, which highlighted simmering
tensions in the west of the world's top cocoa grower.
The U.N. mission said it could not comment on specific
allegations until investigators had completed a probe.
A crowd of about 300 people, many of them young men armed
with clubs and machetes, stormed the Nahibly camp early on
Friday, according to the United Nations, in an apparent revenge
attack for an overnight robbery in the nearby town of Duekoue.
"They broke down the gate to get in ... they started to tear
down the tents, then they said 'Send for gasoline. We're going
to burn the tents'," Sidiki Kehi Dambele told Reuters at
Duekoue's city hall, where hundreds of former camp residents
have now taken refuge.
"I ran to (the U.N. police) and climbed aboard their truck,
but they pushed me away. I fell out. That's when (the mob)
caught me. They wanted to kill me. They beat me with clubs,"
said Dambele, whose left arm and right elbow were wrapped in
Ivory Coast is recovering from a civil war which erupted
last year when then President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept
his defeat in elections in late 2010. The conflict killed about
3,000 people and forced 1 million to flee their homes.
Nahibly, which was largely destroyed in Friday's raid, was
home to about 5,000 Ivorians who had yet to return home, mainly
due to lingering insecurity in the west.
About 10 soldiers and 10 police officers from Ivory Coast's
U.N. peacekeeping mission, UNOCI, were stationed at the camp.
Reinforcements arrived soon after the violence broke out, the
Camp resident Jean Matthieu Taha said he was beaten by young
men with sticks in front of the peacekeepers.
"At that moment the white people just stopped. You'd try to
go to the whites, to UNOCI, and they chased you away themselves.
I don't know why," he said, the left side of his head covered in
an adhesive bandage.
"UNOCI has set up a team to do a thorough investigation into
what actually happened in Duekoue. As we speak, that
investigation team is at work on the ground," UNOCI spokesman
Kenneth Blackman told Reuters.
"Once it has conducted its investigation, we should have
much more information with regard to the details of what
Ivorian soldiers and police were also deployed to the camp
during the violence, and UNOCI and Ivory Coast's government have
since traded blame over who was responsible for security.
A defence ministry spokesman said in a statement broadcast
on state television over the weekend that the camp had been
"guarded since its creation by the blue helmets of UNOCI".
UNOCI, tasked by the U.N. Security Council to protect
civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, said its
detachment in the camp was intended to provide security for aid
workers and their equipment and that its staff had been
"surrounded and blocked by the crowd".
"Ivorian authorities were in charge of the general security
of the camp ... I would like to reiterate that at no time was
the security of the camp under UNOCI's responsibility," Arnauld
Akodjenou, the deputy head of the mission, said on Saturday.
Ivorian authorities have also promised to investigate.
Duekoue has long been a flashpoint for ethnic violence
aggravated by disputes over land ownership. Human rights
investigators say about 800 people were massacred there during
last year's conflict. Friday's attack was also ethnically
"The failure of the Ivorian security forces and U.N.
peacekeepers to protect those in the camp raises serious
concerns," said Matt Wells, West Africa researcher with Human
"UNOCI has often played an important role in civilian
protection, but the inability to stop the attackers in this
instance should spur an immediate investigation into what went
wrong, with a commitment to make public the findings."
The United Nations estimates there are about 86,000 people
still displaced in Ivory Coast, most living with host families.
(Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Pravin Char)