The United Nations says it is investigating allegations of widespread sexual abuse committed by a group of U.N. peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.

A U.N. statement issued Friday says the alleged abuses took place by forces in the northern city of Bouake.  The U.N. contingent's activities have been suspended, and the peacekeepers have been confined to their barracks.

Soldiers from Morocco, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Ghana make up the U.N. peacekeeping force in Bouake of about 9,000 U.N. troops in Ivory Coast.  The U.N. did not identify the nationality of the peacekeepers involved in the allegations.

The world body has imposed a zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse and exploitation in response to numerous allegations of misconduct by U.N. peacekeeping forces around the world. 

The U.N. peacekeepers, backed by troops from France, are deployed in the West African nation to prevent new fighting between the northern-based rebels and the southern-based government.  The two sides signed a peace deal in March.

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