News / Africa

Gbagbo Forces Regain Ground in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Incumbent president is holding out in an underground bunker

A picture released by the French spokesman for Laurent Gbagbo on April 7, 2011 shows a burnt out tank reportedly in the gardens of the residence of Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan. (AFP image)
A picture released by the French spokesman for Laurent Gbagbo on April 7, 2011 shows a burnt out tank reportedly in the gardens of the residence of Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan. (AFP image)

Troops loyal to Ivory Coast's incumbent president are regaining ground in the commercial capital, Abidjan.

The incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, is holding out in an underground bunker, surrounded by forces backing the country's internationally-recognized president, Alassane Quattara.

Forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo are recapturing parts of downtown Abidjan as well as areas of the Cocody neighborhood where he is in an underground bunker at the presidential compound surrounded by fighters backing Mr. Ouattara.

The head of U.N. peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, says Gbagbo forces are a kilometer from Mr. Ouattara's hotel headquarters and clearly used a cease-fire meant to negotiate Mr. Gbagbo's surrender last Tuesday to rearm and regroup.

Le Roy said, "The forces of Mr. Gbagbo have since that time regained terrain and they have full control of the Plateau and the Cocody area. They regained forces there. While we speak they might be very close to the Golf Hotel. They have clearly used the lull of Tuesday as a trick to reinforce their position. They tried to say they agreed to negotiate, in fact they were consolidating their position."

Le Roy says Gbagbo troops still have many heavy weapons including tanks, rocket launchers and armored personnel carriers. France says Gbagbo forces shelled its ambassador's residence late Friday, a charge Mr. Gbagbo's spokesman denies.

Having blockaded Mr. Gbagbo in his bunker, Mr. Ouattara is moving to take control of Ivory Coast, calling for an end to European Union sanctions, the reopening of banks and the restarting of Abidjan's oil refinery.

But he is also facing new allegations of human rights abuses by his forces in western provinces near the Liberian border. Human Rights Watch says pro-Ouattara forces killed or raped hundreds of people and burned villages late last month.

HRW is also detailing atrocities by pro-Gbagbo forces, including the killing of 100 men, women and children in a northern town.

The International Criminal Court says there can be no amnesty for abuses committed during this fighting.

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