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UN Spokesman Calls For 'Rapid Solution' to Ivorian Crisis

A man known as Commander Bauer, the chief of a group that calls itself the 'invisible commandos' and backs Alassane Ouattara, walks with his fighters in northern Abidjan's Abobo district, March 26, 2011

The spokesman for the United Nations mission in Ivory Coast says there is need for a “rapid solution” to the escalating crisis in the West African nation.

This came after forces loyal to internationally-recognized President Alassane Ouattara attacked a U.N. reconnaissance helicopter Monday.

Amadou Toure condemns the incident warning that any attack on officials of the United Nations is a war crime which will be prosecuted under international law.

“We condemn this act, which is a war crime according to international convention. And we call on the relevant authorities to take all measures to identify those [who perpetrated] this attack and to make sure that they are brought to justice so that they can be held accountable for their actions,” said Toure.

He denies the United Nations supports pro-Ouattara forces who have intensified their attacks aimed at forcing incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to step down and cede power.

“It’s [a] groundless accusation [because] we are completely impartial, militarily speaking. We don’t support any Ivorian military group here. We never did it [and] we will never do it. We are perfectly impartial and that has to be made very, very clear,” said Toure.

“We are prepared to go as far as possible. It’s not the U.N. that has to bring them to justice, but the authorities they [rebels] depend on. They have commanders, they have political leaders; so, it’s up to them to take action and we will follow it also,” he added.

Toure says the United Nations is prepared to go all out to ensure the perpetrators are apprehended and prosecuted for their actions.

He says, however, the United Nations has yet to officially petition the Ouattara administration about Monday’s attack.

“We talked [to] the chief of general staff of the republican forces. So, since it was a military thing, we tried to address it militarily and we will see how to follow it up,” he said.

Meanwhile, a negotiated outcome in the Ivory Coast crisis appeared further out of reach Tuesday as pro-Ouattara forces captured several key towns.

In an offensive begun Monday, they captured Bondoukou and Abengourou in the east, the west-central town of Daloa and the western town of Duekoue. From there, the pro-Ouattara New Forces continued their march south toward Abidjan.