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3 UN Vehicles Burned in Ivory Coast

Ivorian students protest near a burnt U.N. vehicle during a demonstration at the junction of Riviera 2 in Abidjan, 13 Jan 2011
Ivorian students protest near a burnt U.N. vehicle during a demonstration at the junction of Riviera 2 in Abidjan, 13 Jan 2011

The United Nations says three U.N. vehicles in Ivory Coast have been attacked and burned by youths loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo.

A spokesman for the U.N. mission in Ivory Coast, Kenneth Blackman, says the attack occurred Thursday in the Riviera district of the main city, Abidjan.  There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The U.N. and other international bodies want Mr. Gbagbo to cede power to rival Alassane Ouattara, who most countries recognize as the winner of November's presidential election.

Mr. Gbagbo has refused and ordered U.N. peacekeepers to leave the country -- an order the U.N. has rejected, saying Mr. Gbagbo is no longer Ivory Coast's president.

Fighting between pro-Gbagbo security forces and armed Ouattara supporters in Abidjan Tuesday and Wednesday killed 11 people, including several policemen.

The city was calm overnight Wednesday after the army imposed a curfew on the Abobo district, where the fighting had taken place.

Earlier, the U.N. said three of its peacekeepers were wounded late Tuesday in an ambush by Gbagbo forces.  In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said any attacks on U.N. peacekeepers are unacceptable.

Mr. Ban also accused pro-Gbagbo forces of trying to force U.N. troops out of the Abobo district.  He said U.N. forces "are determined" to stay in the area and will carry out their mandate to protect civilians.

The West African bloc ECOWAS and the African Union have tried to persuade Mr. Gbagbo to give up power, so far without success.

He maintains control of the army and other state institutions, although the U.N. is no longer recognizing his diplomats.

Mr. Ouattara remains confined to Abidjan's Golf Hotel.  He has been in the hotel for more than a month, protected by U.N. peacekeepers but surrounded by pro-Gbagbo soldiers.

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