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Ivorian Army Attacks Former Militia Allies

Ibrahim Coulibaly (C), head of the 'Invisible Commandos', walks with his troops through the Abobo neighbourhood of Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan, April 19, 2011

Residents of Ivory Coast's main city say soldiers loyal to new President Alassane Ouattara have engaged in heavy fighting with a militia that helped to bring Ouattara to power.

The residents of Abidjan's Abobo neighborhood say gunfire shook the area Wednesday as the new Ivorian army attacked its former ally, a group known as the Invisible Commandos.

The two sides had fought alongside each other to depose former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo after he refused to accept his loss to Ouattara in last year's presidential election.

But, the Invisible Commandos led by Ibrahim Coulibaly have a long rivalry with Ouattara's forces, with little to unite the two sides apart from their desire to oust Gbagbo.

Coulibaly has pledged allegiance to Ouattara in the past. It is not clear what triggered Wednesday's clashes between the forces of the two men.

Fighting also erupted Wednesday in Abidjan's Yopougon district, where Ouattara's army was trying to stamp out remaining Gbagbo loyalists. The battle prompted many residents to flee to safer areas.

Gbagbo was captured at his Abidjan residence last week, after an offensive by pro-Ouattara forces and attacks on the residence by French forces and United Nations peacekeepers.

The former president insists that he won the November election. The United Nations, African Union and most countries recognize Ouattara as Ivory Coast's democratically-elected president.