Tuesday, April 5, 2011

'Presidential palace taken in Abidjan'

French soldiers patrol the Port Bouet district of Abidjan in Ivory Coast.

Source: Press TV

Forces loyal to president-elect Alassane Ouattara claim they have seized incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo's residence in Abidjan as fighting takes a new turn in the North African nation.

Heavy weapons fire rocked the capital Abidjan Tuesday as forces loyal to internationally recognized president Ouattara clashed with Gbagbo troops, AFP reported on Tuesday.

The arms fire came from the city's Plateau district, a business district in Abidjan where the presidential palace is located.

Witnesses describe the pre-dawn clash as the heaviest fighting since soldiers backing Ouattara entered the city five days ago.

A pro-Gbagbo military source, however, denied the claim.

Earlier, Ouattara's forces announced they would soon launch their final assault on Gbagbo's presidential palace.

The news came after French and UN helicopters attacked Gbagbo's palace and military bases on Monday.

The joint campaign followed an urgent request by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, calling for military action.

Ban said it was necessary to launch military operations to protect the civilian population against Gbagbo's onslaughts.

However, an advisor to Gbagbo in Paris described the attacks as an assassination attempt on the leader.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources say several foreigners including two French nationals have been kidnapped in Abidjan.

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