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7 Die in Ivory Coast Violence

Residents look at a vehicle of FDS - troops loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo - burned in the Abobo district of Abidjan, 12 Jan 2011

Witnesses report more fighting in Ivory Coast's commercial capital between forces loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and supporters of his rival, Alassane Ouattara.

Mr. Gbagbo's interior ministry said at least six policemen were killed in Abidjan Wednesday. Several police vehicles were burned during heavy pre-dawn fighting.

Witnesses said at least one civilian also was killed and they reported hearing more gunfire at mid-day.

Similar clashes in Abidjan Tuesday left five people dead, including at least two police officers.

The United Nations says three of its peacekeepers were slightly injured late Tuesday in an ambush by Gbagbo forces.

These clashes have taken place in the Abobo district, a stronghold of support for Mr. Ouattara.

Late Wednesday, the army chief of staff, who has backed Mr. Gbagbo, announced the district would be under a 7 pm to 6 am curfew until Saturday morning. And he warned that security forces are ready, in his words, to fight back.

Incumbent President Gbagbo has rejected demands that he cede power to Mr. Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of presidential elections in November.

Mr. Gbagbo remains in control of the nation's security forces. Mr. Ouattara is still confined to an Abidjan hotel that is under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is expected to return to Ivory Coast this week in the latest effort to end the impasse. Mr. Odinga serves as the African Union's mediator for the country.