July 21, 2017 / 6:28 PM / in a year

Francophone Games begin in Ivory Coast amid security fears

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (Reuters) - Thousands of young athletes launched the International Francophone Games in Abidjan on Friday after a series of shootings in Ivory Coast’s main city that raised security concerns.

Participants perform during the opening ceremony of the 8th Francophone Games at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

The 10-day Jeux de la Francophonie is held every four years and includes cultural exchanges while aiming to promote the French language.

The Games will include basketball, football, wrestling and cycling, among other sports. Among the cultural activities on tap will be photography, dance, painting and puppetry.

Up to 48 nations will take part and organizers hope the event will reach a global television audience of millions.

The Games began amid renewed tension in the West African state arising from months of military mutinies. On Wednesday gunmen, some in uniform, attacked an elite security unit base in Abidjan, killing an officer, stealing weapons and then fighting security forces in another district.

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; editing by Mark Heinrich

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