Gangs sprang up in the poor areas of Abidjan’s densely populated suburb of Abobo during the decade of civil unrest in Ivory Coast between 2002 and 2011.
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For nearly 10 years the 24-year-old was in a "microbe" gang, the name residents have given to the youth gangs who rob, attack and sometimes kill to get by in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan.Hundreds of youngsters – some as young as 10 – are in the gangs, according to the charity Indigo, which has helped about 40 former members reintegrate into society.After mobs of residents lynched a number of gang members, a microbe leader was tortured, beheaded and burned in 2015 .Vieux-Pere left his family home after fighting with his father over his gang membership. He slept on the streets for two years before finding a small house "with a mattress" in Abobo for 15,000 CFA francs a month ($27).He joined the microbe gang "Air France" in 2008 and spent most of the next decade robbing people on the streets, often at knifepoint or threatening his victims with his fists.There were about 40 adolescents in the gang, which operated mostly at night.The new gang leader dreamed of a better life.
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