Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ivory Coast: Ouattara forces storm Gbagbo residence


(BBC News) - Forces opposed to Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo have attempted to seize him from his Abidjan residence.
Heavy fighting broke out around his compound but forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara now appear to have called off their attack.
France said UN-brokered talks had failed, blaming Mr Gbagbo, who had been negotiating terms for his departure.
Mr Gbagbo insists he won November's run-off vote, but election officials found Mr Ouattara was the winner.
Supporters of Laurent Gbagbo in detention at the Golf Hotel, Abidjan (6 April 2011)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 basement of the presidential residence, which was controlled by his troops.
Troops 'in the building'
Gun, rocket and mortar fire was reported around Mr Gbagbo's residence in an upmarket area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast's main city.
Two days of heavy fighting had stopped late on Tuesday and negotiations with Mr Gbagbo carried on throughout the night.
But by Wednesday morning it appeared the patience of pro-Ouattara forces had run out.
"We are going to get Laurent Gbagbo out of his hole and hand him over to the president of the Republic," said Sidiki Konate, spokesman of Mr Ouattara's prime minister, Guillaume Soro.
A resident who lives close to Mr Gbagbo's residence told Reuters of fighting and explosions.
"We can hear automatic gunfire and also the thud of heavy weapons. There's shooting all over the place," Alfred Kouassi said.
A spokesman for Mr Ouattara said fighters had been given strict instructions not to harm Mr Gbagbo.
However, by mid-afternoon the sounds of battle had died away and Mr Ouattara's troops were reported to have pulled back.
The BBC's John James, outside Abidjan, says a new standoff appears to be developing, with the anti-Gbagbo forces possibly regrouping for an overnight assault.