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Rebecca Blackwell/AP
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Gbagbo arrested by Ouattara’s forces after more French strikes

The Ivory Coast’s disputed president is detained by French forces who then handed him over to pro-Ouattara opposition.

THE FRENCH EMBASSY to the Ivory Coast says troops loyal to the president-in-waiting Alassane Ouattara have arrested the country’s disputed leader, strongman Laurent Gbagbo, from his residence in Cocody.

The BBC said the arrest has also been confirmed by Gbagbo’s own loyalists, with the arrest coming after French tanks continued to clash with his forces after UN and French-fired rockets on his residence in retaliation for attacks on UN personnel and civilians.

“Gbagbo has been arrested by French special forces in his residence and has been handed over to the rebel leaders,” Gbagbo spokesman Toussaint Alain told Reuters.

Gbagbo had continued to cling to power, hiding in a bunker in his residence while his forces tried to repel the international forces seeking to oust him and install Ouattara – considered the winner of last December’s presidential election – in his stead.

Witnesses in Abidjan’s Plateau neighbourhood earlier said they had seen French vehicles and soldiers clashing with pro-Gbagbo forces around the presidential palace.

An Associated Press reporter saw a column of 25 military vehicles including tanks and armored personal carriers leaving a French army base early this morning.

This morning residents of the Cocody neighbourhood said they saw forces fighting to install internationally-recognised president Alassane Ouattara clashing with Gbagbo’s own forces.

Those clashes came after Ouattara called for banks and businesses to reopen after weeks of fighting in the commercial capital. However, it did not appear that banks heeded the call.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon authorised the strikes that continued late into last night, accusing Gbagbo of continuing to use heavy weapons against civilians in his bid to hang on to office more than four months after losing the presidential election.

Additional reporting by AP

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