Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ivory Coast: Gbagbo forces hold off Ouattara troops


Troops backing the internationally recognised president of Ivory Coast have been rebuffed in attempts to oust the country's incumbent leader.
(BBC News) - Alassane Ouattara's forces launched an assault on the home of Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to stand down as president.
After hours of fighting, Mr Ouattara's men pulled back in the face of heavy fire from within Mr Gbagbo's residence.
Pro-Ouattara fighter prepares for an assault on the presidential palaceMr Gbagbo insists he won November's run-off vote, but election officials found Mr Ouattara was the winner.
That result was certified by the UN, but Mr Gbagbo has refused to leave office.
Mr Gbagbo and his family are believed to be sheltering in the bunker of his residence, in an upmarket area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast's main city.
He says Mr Ouattara's troops want to kill him, while they say they have strict orders to capture him alive.
Speaking by phone to French radio and sounding defiant, Mr Gbagbo denied he was hiding in a bunker.
"I am in the residence - the residence of the president of the republic. When it rains, can't one take shelter inside one's house?"
Mr Gbagbo had earlier denied he was surrendering, saying he was only negotiating a truce.
Troops 'in the building'
Gun, rocket and mortar fire was reported around Mr Gbagbo's residence during Wednesday.
Carrying automatic weapons and approaching the compound in pickup trucks modified to carry heavy machine guns, Mr Ouattara's troops attempted to storm the residence to spring Mr Gbagbo from his hideaway.