05 APR 2011
By Andrew Willis
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - United Nations and French helicopters have carried out strikes against military targets belonging to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast, as forces loyal to president-elect Alassane Ouattara conduct a final offensive to capture the country's main city of Abidjan.
Forces loyal to Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of disputed presidential elections last November, stepped up fighting in the city late on Monday evening (4 April), with reports of renewed gunfire on Tuesday morning.
A spokesman for Ouattara said they had captured the presidential palace but were still looking for Gbagbo. The opposition denied the reports.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the attacks were not a declaration of war against Gbagbo but were ordered instead to defend civilians, citing UN Security Council resolution 1975 of 30 March 2011.
"This is a direct consequence of Mr Gbagbo's refusal to relinquish power and allow a peaceful transition," said the UN chief, whose forces have also come under repeated attack in the west African country. "The country has been plunged into violence with a heavy toll on the civilian population."
The UN peacekeeping force in the Ivory Coast numbers 9,000.
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