Sunday, April 3, 2011

French troops take over Ivorian airport

French troops in Ivory Coast patrol a street in Abidjan

Source: Press TV

The French military says its forces have taken control of the airport in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan as post-election violence continues to haunt the country.

French Military Spokesman Thierry Burkhard said on Sunday that Paris has sent 300 back-up troops to the West African nation.

There are currently more than 1,500 foreign forces in Ivory Coast -- including 700 from France.

Forces loyal to president-elect Alassane Ouattara arrived in Abidjan on Thursday after launching a major offensive.

Abidjan has been the scene of heavy fighting between Ouattara forces and those of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

Ivorian state TV has accused French troops of preparing genocide like the one in Rwanda in 1994 which left an estimated 800,000 people dead in the space of 100 days.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says that at least 800 people were killed in Ivory Coast on Tuesday alone.

The humanitarian body said the victims were killed after fighting broke out in the western city of Duekoue.

The United Nations mission in Ivory Coast (ONUCI) said on Saturday that pro-Ouattara forces had killed 330 people in key-strategic town.

Ouattara has vehemently denied the report and says his forces were not involved in the Duekoue killings.

"The government [of Ouattara] notes with regret that the allegations of the deputy chief of ONUCI human rights division are not supported by any evidence after its preliminary investigation," Ouattara's government said in a statement.

Deadly violence erupted in the West African nation after a disputed presidential election in November.

While much of the international community has recognized Ouattara as the winner of the vote, Gbagbo refuses to cede power.

Tensions further escalated after they both claimed victory and appointed separate cabinets.

The disputed presidential election has raised the risk of a long power struggle that could trigger another civil war in the country.

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