UN attacks Gbagbo military positions in Ivory Coast

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

File photo of Laurent Gbagbo
Image: Zenman.

A spokesman for the United Nations has announced that UN helicopters attacked an encampment of President Laurent Gbagbo's fighters in Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) to stop the use of heavy weapons and shelling of civilians.

"We launched an operation to neutralise heavy weapons Gbagbo's special forces have been using against the civilian population for the last three months. We destroyed them in four locations", said spokesman Hamadoun Toure in an email. In concert with the UN, France has deployed an additional 350 peacekeepers to compliment its 7,500 troops already in the country. It was also reported that the French were in control of the airport in Abidjan.

The recent violence in Ivory Coast stems from Gbagbo's refusal to accept his loss in the recent presidential elections. He has stated that he will not transfer power to his successor Alassane Ouattara, the declared winner. Gbagbo's spokesman, Abdon George Bayeto, told the BBC the elections were rigged as an "international plot against the incumbent" and was going to continue fighting forces loyal to Ouattara.

Lieutenant Jean-Marc Tago of the Ivory Coast army announced the return of General Phillippe Mangou. Although it has been reported that the general's family was being held hostage by Gbagbo forces, Tago claims this is untrue, saying, "The general is with us, and has always been with us. Our plan is to defend the institutions of the republic against all its enemies, against the rebels, against the mercenaries, against the [United Nations] and all those who are attacking the institutions of the republic commanded by President Laurent Gbagbo."

British foreign secretary William Hague said in a statement, "We call for an end to the violence, for defeated former president Gbagbo to step down, for all human rights abuses to be investigated, and for the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes which appear to have taken place."

The crisis has created a humanitarian problem as one million of Abidjan's four million people has been displaced.