Africa

Ivory Coast crisis: 'Gunfire all the time in Abidjan'

As French troops reportedly take over the aiport in Abidjan, the intense fighting in the Ivory Coast city continues, with no sign that it will abate any time soon.

Heavy artillery fire was heard as troops supporting the UN-recognised, president, Alassane Ouattara, closed in on those backing his rival, Laurent Gbagbo.

But what is life like for those living in the city, having to deal with gunfire all the time?

Stephane, Abidjan

I can hear the gunfire while I am in my house.

Image caption Abidjan resident Khodor, who took this picture, said people looted buildings, leaving nothing behind

One of the worst things is we keep hearing lots of conflicting information. One minute you hear the pro-Ouattara army is taking advantage of the chaos and the situation, the next you hear it is the pro-Gbagbo forces doing that.

I am with my family and we are scared. We feel we cannot leave the house at all. We only went out briefly yesterday and that was to try to find somewhere to buy food.

We are trying to stay as safe as possible and have locked and blocked the doors and window.

We are trying to avoid opening the door if somebody knocks on it as we have heard about robbers targeting neighbourhoods near us and looking for houses to target. We just stay hidden as much as we can.

I think these robbers are taking advantage of the chaos.

When you hear the shooting, you don't know who it is - whether it's someone supporting a particular side, or just someone getting involved for the sake of it.

We were hoping most of the situation would be sorted by now, but now we don't know.

My friends and I are using social networks to communicate and find out where the areas being targeted are. I am trying to also send information out, so that I can do my bit to help others.

I think the French forces should focus on helping their people, while the UN should help the citizens of the Ivory Coast. I don't think the UN is doing enough.

Everyone here is scared.

Noah, Abidjan

The trouble broke out on Wednesday and I first noticed it when on my way out, I found I couldn't get the public transport - there was none.

Image caption Noah says everything in the store near the petrol station had been taken

I started walking and got to my fiancée's family's house where I have stayed ever since.

I took a walk on Thursday morning, and to my great surprise, I saw a chain of heavy loaded cars, with pro-Ouattara guys driving through the main road from Angre to Cocody. They had very heavy weapons - war weapons that I have never seen, not even in films.

Where I am, in Septieme Tranche, we can see that the petrol station pumps had been forced by people trying to get fuel and some had been seriously damaged.

Most petit supermarkets on the roadside have been broken into and all the item taken away.

I have seen young boys - supporters of Gbagbo - holding weapons but yet they have no military experience. This is very scary.

We hear gunfire all the time and it feels like it is getting closer. We try to stay indoors as much as we can and lock the doors of the duplex.

But I can hear heavy shots going off right now. My fiancée is pregnant and we all pray we do not fall ill as there are no dispensaries and pharmacies open.

The streets are generally calmer since the pro-Ouattara forces implemented a curfew that lasts between 0600 local time to noon.

But people are still looking for food and water, and worry as the main shops are all closed.

Opeyemi, Abidjan

I am from Nigeria but own a hairdressing salon here. As a foreigner, I know it is not good to be involved in the politics and so I am staying neutral.

Image caption Opeyemi says the young rebels in Angre were helping people deal with looters

But the main problems now are not in the Angre area in Abidjan, but in the presidential neighbourhood of Cocody. That is where a lot of the shooting appears to be coming from. That is the area we know to avoid.

I went out and took some pictures earlier this week and talked to some of the rebels. They were not hurting people but instead trying to keep some sort of order.

I have been out and the rebels tell us they do not want to hurt anyone. I believe them.

We have neighbours whose homes have been vandalised or cars attacked but these boys try to help them. They say they are here to protect us.

In Angre it is calmer than it was but, as I said, the main problem is the cowards who are trying to vandalise everything.

We think they are prisoners from a jail who were freed and now we think some of them are causing problems.

Interviews by Dhruti Shah

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