News / Africa

Ivory Coast Rivals Battle Near Abidjan Barracks

A man who says he was shot in the face by security forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo while walking home in the Abobo neighborhood waits to receive stitches at a health clinic in the Anyama suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 12, 2011
A man who says he was shot in the face by security forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo while walking home in the Abobo neighborhood waits to receive stitches at a health clinic in the Anyama suburb of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 12, 2011

Heavy fighting between supporters of Ivory Coast's two rival presidents resumed Tuesday near police barracks in the commercial capital, Abidjan.

Witnesses say government forces who back incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo are trying to clear the area of so-called "mystic commandos," who back rival president Alassane Ouattara.

Mr. Gbagbo has refused to cede power to Mr. Ouattara, who is recognized by the United Nations and the African Union as the winner of a presidential election in November.

The commandos appear to be pushing from pro-Ouattara territory in the north toward pro-Gbagbo strongholds in the south.

Residents say the latest fighting began on Monday, when pro-Ouattara fighters attacked police barracks in the Williamsville neighborhood of the Adjame district.

On Monday, the fighting spread to a pro-Gbagbo neighborhood for the first time since the political crisis began.

Separately, Mr. Ouattara has extended a ban on cocoa exports through the end of the month, hoping to cut off funding for Mr. Gbagbo.  Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa producer.

The United States and European Union have imposed a series of travel and financial sanctions on the Gbagbo government.

The U.N. says post-election violence in Ivory Coast has killed at least 365 people.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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