Reporters on the Job

'Thriller,' à la Ivory Coast: Correspondent Lane Hartill spent about a week in rebel-held Bouake, the Forces Nouvelles (FN) stronghold in Ivory Coast. "I had first been there in 2003," says Lane. "The FN brass remembered me from my first visit. And they especially remembered taking me and a group of visiting journalists out to a nightclub. They promised to do it again."

Sure enough, one night at about 11 o'clock, they picked up Lane and his friends at the hotel and took them out for a night on the town. Sidiki Konate, the spokesman of the FN, who worked at the Frankfurt, Germany, airport before joining the rebellion, badgered Lane about what kind of music he liked.

"As a joke, I said, 'Michael Jackson.' Before I knew it, the packed dance floor cleared and the DJ said, 'This one's for Lane.' Sidiki forced me out there. I said no. But he made it clear I didn't have a choice."

Lane says that Commander "Ouattao" – one of the notorious commanders of the FN's armed forces and a former judo champion who had a reputation for violence in his past – was sporting a "nuclear" white outfit with an easily identifiable outline of a firearm on his hip. "I wasn't about to argue with either of them. With a full house looking on, I dredged up some of my old break- dancing moves from my youth.

"Sidiki collapsed in the booth, laughing. I tried to leave. He would have none of it. So I flailed for a while longer. When I finally faked exhaustion, and marched off the floor, he said: 'Lane, I'm very, very proud of you.' "

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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