News / Africa

    Gbagbo Army Calls for Reinforcements in Battle for Abidjan

    Smoke rises from the city center of Abidjan, April 2, 2011
    Smoke rises from the city center of Abidjan, April 2, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Soldiers backing Ivory Coast's incumbent president are calling for reinforcements in their battle against fighters supporting the country's internationally-recognized president.  In the third day of combat for control of the commercial capital, Abidjan, Human Rights Watch is calling on both sides to respect the rights of civilians.

    Supporters of incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo used state-run television to call for reinforcements in their battle against forces backing Ivory Coast's internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara.

    Gbagbo militant Damane Picasse says they are fighting against foreign powers, the United Nations, mercenaries, and the West African regional alliance. He is calling on everyone in the Abidjan neighborhoods of Cocody and Yopougon - men, women, and children - to defend the Gbagbo presidency.

    Gbagbo supporters regained control of state-run television after if was briefly forced off the air  and used it to call on all members of the armed forces to join what they say are five units still fighting in Abidjan.

    Many of those troops have already defected to Ouattara's side. Gbagbo's army chief of staff took his wife and children to seek refuge in the home of the South African ambassador.

    While pro-Ouattara fighters met little resistance in taking the political capital Yamoussoukro and the port of San Pedro, Gbagbo clearly has far-more-determined defenders in Abidjan. As the fight breaks down into neighborhood-by-neighborhood combat, Human Rights Watch is calling on both sides to protect the rights of civilians.

    Corinne Dufka heads the Human Rights Watch West Africa office. "The potential for reprisals is quite high, so we are asking that Mr. Ouattara's coalition of forces respect international humanitarian law, ensure that any prisoners that are taken are not summarily executed that they are put in a proper detention facility, and that there are no reprisal killing against civilians who they believe or who did support Laurent Gbagbo," she said.

    Dufka says ensuring overall discipline may be complicated by the amalgam of fighters coalescing behind Mr. Ouattara.

    "The military forces fighting with Alassane Ouattara are made up of a loose coalition that includes Force Nouvelle rebels who were formerly based in the north," she said. "They include police, gendarmes, and soldiers who have recently defected from Gbagbo's side over to Ouattara's side. And they include as well neighborhood-based civil defense forces which have sprung up over the last couple months. So we are asking that he take proactive measures to ensure that those forces are disciplined, to make sure they have the proper directives to respect international humanitarian law and human rights."

    Dufka says pro-Gbagbo forces must also respect those rights. "Yesterday we documented a number of cases in two neighborhoods in which Gbagbo's military were firing out at the civilian population," she said. 'That is in Treichville and near the airport in the Port-Bouet neighborhood."

    "In Treichville, that is the base of the Republican Guard, they were firing into the population probably to prevent an advance by Ouattara's forces. The same thing in Port-Bouet. That kind of reckless fire and firing out into the population must be avoided. If there is to be fighting, it needs to be between armed men from one side and armed men from the other side," she added.

    The United Nations mission in Ivory Coast says more than 400 people were killed in fighting in western provinces last week, most of them by forces backing Ouattara. The International Committee of the Red Cross says at least 800 people were killed last Tuesday alone.

    Watch related slide show

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora