Ouattara Forces Surround Gbagbo Home in Ivory Coast

Published on Thursday 7th April 2011

Forces loyal to Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president surrounded the home of incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo Thursday following sporadic clashes between the two sides overnight.The siege comes a day after forces backing Alassane Ouattara attacked Gbagbo's bunker, but later pulled backed after meeting strong resistance from pro-Gbagbo troops.French helicopters on Thursday rescued Japan's ambassador to Ivory Coast, whose residence was caught in clashes between the rival presidents' forces.French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Israel has also asked France to help evacuate its diplomats from Ivory Coast.The forces loyal to Ouattara launched an assault on Gbagbo's residence Wednesday after he refused to admit electoral defeat and surrender. Aides to Ouattara say the fighters have been told to capture Gbagbo alive.Ivory Coast has been mired in political crisis since December, when Gbagbo rejected election results showing that Ivorians had chosen Ouattara as president.Months of international mediation efforts failed to convince Gbagbo to leave power peacefully.  Pro-Ouattara fighters launched a nationwide offensive last week, seizing towns and cities across Ivory Coast, and driving pro-Gbagbo forces back to Abidjan.Hundreds have died since the post-election fighting began in December, including many civilians.  The U.N. says up to 1 million Ivorians have fled their homes.  More than 100,000 have fled to neighboring Liberia.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.


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