SomaliPress.com

Fresh Clashes Erupt in Ivory Coast

Published on Monday 11th April 2011

Witnesses in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan say fighting has erupted between forces of incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara.The clashes Monday in the Cocody area follow a wave of United Nations and French helicopter attacks late Sunday on Gbagbo's residence in the city.French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday the strikes were aimed at heavy weapons in Abidjan, after civilians and U.N. personnel continued to be the targets of attacks.Sarkozy also called the humanitarian situation in several Abidjan neighborhoods "alarming."Witnesses said they saw smoke rising from the area Sunday after three separate attacks on the presidential compound.  Gbagbo is believed to be hiding in an underground bunker at the site.  He is refusing to admit defeat after losing last November's presidential election to rival Ouattara.U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence. He says the fighting must stop and that Gbagbo has to step aside immediately. On Saturday, United Nations officials said pro-Gbagbo forces launched mortar fire at Ouattara's headquarters, the Golf Hotel.  A Gbagbo spokesman said the attack never happened, denying reports from witnesses.The U.S. State Department condemned the assault on the hotel and said Gbagbo's attempts at peace talks last week were a ruse for his forces to regroup and rearm.Ouattara's aides say they have concluded Gbagbo cannot be taken alive from his fortified residence. They have said they will leave him there and focus on restoring normalcy in the rest of the country. The group Human Rights Watch says pro-Ouattara forces killed hundreds of civilians and burned their villages last month and raped Gbagbo supporters. The same group has accused Gbagbo forces of killing civilians.HRW says that once Ouattara takes power, he should open an impartial probe into the atrocities committed by both sides, and bring those responsible to justice.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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