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Ivorian troops have "attacked Laurent Gbagbo's home"

Mr Gbagbo has refused to give up the presidency despite the fact the Ivory Coast’s citizens elected Alassane Outtara to the role last November.

In this frame taken from the TV, the rooftops in the Triechville neighbourhood can be seen among plumes of black smoke in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday March 31
In this frame taken from the TV, the rooftops in the Triechville neighbourhood can be seen among plumes of black smoke in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday March 31
Image: AP Photo / APTN via PA Images

TROOPS ARE BELIEVED to have launched an assault on the Ivory Coast’s fortified presidential residence in an attempt to oust Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to give up the presidency.

France24 is reporting on Twitter that a Swedish UN employee has been killed in the Ivory Coast, according to the Swedish foreign ministry.

On November 27, 2010, Alassane Ouattara was elected president of the Ivory Coast ahead of Gbagbo, and his election has been affirmed by the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, the African Union, and the international community.

But since December, Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down, causing a political crisis to break out. The past four months have seen the devastation of the country’s economy, and the creation of humanitarian crisis that has led to the deaths of more than 400 citizens.

Mr Ouattara’s supporters already control most of the country and launched a major offensive last Monday.

The Assistant Secretary of the US Bureau of African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said that the past week has seen some of the most intense fighting in Cote d’Ivoire since the political crisis began in late November. He added:

The United States calls on all parties to exercise restraint and to make the protection of civilians their highest priority. The people of the Cote d’Ivoire have already paid a very high price for democracy. We call upon both sides to ensure that civilians do not pay an even higher price in the future.

Sky News is reporting this morning that a spokesman for the Ouattara supporters said that his fighters had now attacked Mr Gbagbo’s home in Abidjan. He said they had also taken control of the country’s state television, RTI, which residents said had stopped transmitting at 10.45pm Thursday night.

The conflict has led to around 1 million people fleeing the country, with more than 100,000 people having crossed into Liberia. The BBC reports that growing panic seems to be setting in among Mr Gbagbo’s supporters, especially following the decision of the head of the army, Gen Phillippe Mangou, to seek refuge with his wife and children at the home of the South African ambassador.

At a recent meeting, Assistant Secretary Carson said that there are 11,000 UN peacekeepers on the ground, supplemented by French military units. They took control of Abidjan’s international airport after looting was reported in several parts of the city.

He said that if there is a full-scale civil war in the country, “it will not only lead to large refugee flows out into Liberia and to neighbouring states; it will also probably lead to growing instability in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other countries that have been plagued by instability before.”

He added:

If, in fact, there is major violence in Abidjan and Gbagbo does not step aside, he and those around him, including his wife, Simone Gbagbo, will have to be held accountable for the actions that they failed to take to stop it.

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