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Ivory Coast Government Steps Up Rhetoric Against Burkina Faso Immigrants - 2002-10-07

Ivory Coast's government has stepped up its rhetoric against immigrants from Burkina Faso as a rebel crisis escalates in the West African country.

A strongly worded editorial read over Ivory Coast's state television late Sunday called for the expulsion from Ivory Coast of millions of immigrant workers from neighboring Burkina Faso.

The expulsion of Burkinabes, the announcer said, is the key to victory over rebels who continue to hold much of the north and center of Ivory Coast following a rebellion that began on September 19.

State media have repeatedly accused an unidentified neighboring country of helping the rebels.

The accusations have triggered attacks by citizens on Burkinabes in Abidjan, and government forces have been systematically burning down illegal shantytowns where many of the immigrant workers live.

Fighting between government forces and rebels resumed on Sunday as President Laurent Gbagbo refused to sign a cease-fire agreement brokered by West African mediators.