Anti-Gbagbo Forces Claim Capture of Western Ivory Coast Town

Published on Monday 7th March 2011

Forces opposed to incumbent Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo say they have taken control of a town in the western part of the country, where heavy fighting broke out Sunday.The backers of rival leader Alassane Ouattara said they captured the town of Toulepleu near Ivory Coast's border with Liberia.Forces allied with  Gbagbo confirmed the fighting, but did not say the town had been seized. Gbagbo has rejected international pressure to give up power in Ivory Coast after a disputed November presidential election.  The United Nations and most of the international community recognize Ouattara as the winner.The U.N. says post-election violence has killed at least 365 people.The head of an African Union commission looking for a peaceful settlement has invited Gbagbo and Ouattara to meet Thursday in Ethiopia.   Ouattara has said he will attend the meeting, while there has been no word from Gbagbo.This would be the first time since the November 28 election that Ouattara leaves the country. The former prime minister has been barricaded in an Abidjan hotel, surrounded by troops loyal to Gbagbo. U.N. peacekeepers are guarding the hotel.Gbagbo supporters allegedly have looted the homes of at least 10 key Ouattara supporters in Abidjan. Ouattara aides say members of a pro-Gbagbo youth group, the Young Patriots, began raiding the homes on Thursday. Witnesses report seeing gangs of teenagers stealing cars and valuables from the homes, with police making no attempt to stop them.  All of the targeted homes belong to pro-Ouattara businessmen or ministers in his government.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.


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