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Abidjan fighting escalates

Andrew Harding | 09:10 UK time, Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The fighting inside Abidjan has reached a new level of ferocity. Sustained, heavy gunfire has been heard over night in the city centre around the television station and the residence of Laurent Gbagbo, the man refusing to surrender Ivory Coast's presidency.

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A spokesman for Alassane Ouattara's government claimed the residence had been overrun. It is not clear what has happened to Mr Gbagbo himself.

The United Nations, which has a mandate to protect civilians, said its helicopters attacked Gbagbo loyalists defences around the residence and other military sites. French forces were also involved.

The battle for Abidjan is entering its sixth day with millions of civilians still trapped by the fighting. The general leading the assault has insisted the city will fall today.


  • Comment number 1.

    According to a report by Peter Charles, the French army now as during the "rebellion" is actively supporting the "New Forces" by firing into civilian crowds in Yopougon, without the slightest mandate from the security council. The French coup d'etat by electoral fraud followed by genocide is now entering a crtical phase. The genocide is likely to continue for quite some time.

    Be sure, that we, the friends and relatives, will pursue you till hell freezes over with the tenacity of Simon Wiesenthal.

  • Comment number 2.

    French forces rush into Libya and are now in action in Ivory Coast, blatantly partisan in both cases, in the latter theatre they are even operating without a UN mandate.
    Is there a French Presidential election soon?
    Of course there is, it's in May 2012.
    This is how Sarkozy conducts his election campaign, like another Napoleon, a little man with a big one fighting to get out and prove himself.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't know what the French are trying to accomplish here - sure the UN sanctioned the use of force but only time will tell. Peter and Clement you can't tell my that Gbagbo is an angel (the women - Ouattara supporters who were killed in the market by Gbagbo forces) and has not committed attrocities? Unlike you guys i am neutral and have always said that once the dust settles, both parties should be investigated for war crimes.

  • Comment number 4.

    The outright propaganda of the above posters is just ludicrous. FYI the French forces in Ivory Coast are there under an UN mandate and in support theUN peace-seeking mission, which is routinely being harassed and shot at by the Gbagbo loyalists and his hordes of youth thugs and criminals.
    The UN Security Council unanimously passed an especially strong resolution giving the 12,000-strong peacekeeping operation the right "to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence ... including to prevent the use of heavy weapons against the civilian population."

  • Comment number 5.

    To answer the pathetic comment regarding the so called "genocide committed by UN peacekeepers and french troops" today in Ivory Coast... I always found very interesting how generally people who don't care much for the life of other human being try to use the word genocide to defend their cause on last resort. I am not saying that I do necessarily support the unconditional use of force and what UN peace keepers and french forces may do in Ivory Coast, but I can hardly have any tears for somebody like Gbagbo and his close associates who has for years driven his country toward massive inter communal violences, and killings just for the sake of keeping the power instead of trying to find moderation not mentioning the fact he has refused the result of the past elections.

  • Comment number 6.

    sensi i knew the French forces are there under the UN mandate - i was just making an observation:)

  • Comment number 7.

    Pierre Sané, former Secretary General of Amnesty International and former Assistant Director General of UNESCO, now the President of Imagine Africa wrote a cool article entitled "Ivory Coast, the Logic of the Absurd". It explains the complexities of the situation which the world press ignores and makes good reading for everyone. Certainly almost half of Ivorians voted for Gbagbo. It seems there is an international plot to install Ouattara at all costs which are now great in human lives and misery. Remember, the people of Abidjan have been desperately short of food for weeks. Most refugees from Abidjan set off already hungry. The situation is horrendous. May peace soon come to Cote d'Ivore and may the people of Abidjan and the refugees be fed.

  • Comment number 8.

    They all seem to hide in holes in the ground, don't these bravado-laden dictators, when their time comes? Gbagbo has plunged the Ivory Coast into a civil war that will take a long, long time to get out of. He deserves whatever is coming to get him later on today. I feel nothing but contempt for him - good riddance, when it happens.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am also neutral. I do not support Gbagbo, who is a socialist. I support the rule of law. I would like to stress, that there is absolutely NO comparison between Sarkonazy and Napoleon. Napoleon was a humanist and a genious. He brought democracy to all the countries he conquered. Most European law is based on Code Napoleon. It was the British who waged war on France and not vice versa. Please read the outstanding Napoleon biography by the Cambridge professor Vincent Cronin, who is the latest scientist to do substantive research on Napoleon. Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle are the only decent leaders France has had in 400 years.

  • Comment number 10.

    @ Sensi

    "FYI the French forces in Ivory Coast are there under an UN mandate and in support theUN peace-seeking mission,..."

    Both the UN and French forces were in Rwanda on the eve of the genocide... the former as a neutral and the latter as a partisan. We will know more in 10-15 years from now.
    How an election is supposed to unite a country divided under two armies - and with ethnic differences - remains a mystery to me. Can Mr. Harding think of a historical precedent?

  • Comment number 11.


    Firstly, is it not an affront that the UN authorises the military intervention of a country, whom the at least THEN lawful president of the country accuses of trying to colonize it again? Whom he and many Ivorians consider hostile?

    Second, the French are not fulfilling their mandate. They are blatantly killing civillians in Yopougon. That also happened during the "rebellion". Women and children. My wife was a witness to that. A woman carrying a child senselessly gunned down at short range right next to her.

    Please try to remember, that the French and Belgian governments actively supported the regime in Rwanda, which butchered 800.000 of its own citizens in 1995. That is why the Rwandans hate the French so much, that they refuse to speak French although it is their mother tongue.

  • Comment number 12.

    The UN & France are taking sides in a civil war and due to the actions of French forces in bombing Gbagbo's forces it now is the case that any war crimes committed by Ouattara's forces past this point will be the responsibility of French and the UN.
    It's high time that organisations and leaders face the consequences of their violent actions wrought for financial, political or religious gain for themselves or others.

  • Comment number 13.

    The French backed coup of 2002 finally succeeds. Ouattara did not win the elections. That's why they refused to recount the votes. Massive fraud in the North controlled by the rebels was part of the Franco-US-UN plan. This is the greatest injustice of neo-colonial real politik. The African Union has shown its true fethers and they are white.

  • Comment number 14.

    Reading reports that Gbagbo is negotiating his surrender and safe passage out of the country. Well if he cared for his people he would have accepted defeat longtime ago and step down (and challeneged the results like every sane person does). Nevertheless he has blood on his hands.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    @Chris In November 2004, the Frenc army shot dead 72 pro gbagbo demonstrators and injured scores of others and the Internation penal Tribunal in the Hague never blinked an eye. You are either the 'liar' or just too stupid to see that others know their recent history.

  • Comment number 17.

    I know very little about the politics of Cote D'Ivoir but I note the inconsistancy of the UN on how it responds to "humanitarian" crises.

    At Benghazi it attacked the forces besieging the town "to protect civilians". At Abidjan it has allowed the forces besieging the town in and attacked the forces defending it, also "to protect civilians".

    It seems that which side comes under attack depends more on the partisan political stance of the UN than on whether civilians are hurt. There will be serious humanitarian consequences of this attack.

  • Comment number 18.

    FirstDraftHistorian there is no evidence that French troops shot women and children in Yopougon. I have read Clement's posting so either he or his wife is telling porkies and where is your evidence of "massive fraud" in the North? You are one of those people who like to create fear and paranoia.

  • Comment number 19.

    @sagat4 some 2000 bureaus in the north had more voters and those registered. At least 500 of them voted 100% for Ouattara which is impossible. Jerry rawlings sites one polling area where over 170 000 people voted and there were only 46 000 registered voters. And French troops shooting pro-Gbagbo Ivorians is well documented. All the proof is there if the press cared to look. Maybe the Western media have another agenda?

  • Comment number 20.

    KWIGITA TI GUOYA: strategic retreat is not cowardice -- negotiating peace with a mnore powerful enemy is not lack of patriotism. African nations and leaders must become smooth-tongued Barokas (the hero of Wole Soyinka's drama THE LION AND THE JEWEL) in order to manipulate their national assets through the manipulative hands of colonial empires (like France).

    Next time Gbagbo -- at least build yourself one nuclear aircraft carrier first -- to avoid being disgracefully cornered again in the basement !!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    @FirstDraftHistorian, Can you ask Jerry Rawlings to bring the evidence forth? Here on ground we know that not only Gbagbo's camp but also the Constitutional council were unable to bring forth any evidence of massive fraud in the North that the electoral commission had not already taken into account... Perhaps you can?

    The French were under attack by young Patriots in November 2004, they did shoot a few paople but not 72... Gbagbo on the other hand assasinated nearly 300 of Ouattara's supporters in a peaceful demonstration before that....

    @Sagat4, Clement Bane sadly fails to see through his wife's porkies...

  • Comment number 22.


    The French backed coup of 2002 [...] You are [...] too stupid to see that others know their recent history.

    I don't see how this fits either of your statements: "Rebels tried to overthrow President Laurent Gbagbo in September 2002, they took the Muslim north but French troops stopped them from reaching the main city, Abidjan." -->

  • Comment number 23.

    Yet another failed state due to boundaries and borders at have no natural justification. Cote D'Ivoir like another two score countries is one that would benefit from either federalism or a rational redrawing of borders.

    Until the UN gets over its preoccupation with Territorial integrity enshrined in principle 4 of article 2 of its Charter, the world is doomed to have situations like this repeat themselves indefinitely.

    As the secession of Southern Sudan highlights, some Countries are just consigned to failure in their current forms...


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