Heavy fighting reported in Ivory Coast's commercial capital

Other News Materials 1 April 2011 10:37 (UTC +04:00)

Heavy fighting was reported overnight in Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan, including around President Laurent Gbagbo's residence, DPA reported.

Rebel forces backing Ivory Coast's would-be president Alassane Ouattara said early Friday that they had seized the country's state-run television station. A United Nations spokesman in Abidjan told the BBC that the station had stopped broadcasting.

The rebels have seized key cities this week.

Ivory Coast was plunged into violence when Gbagbo refused to cede power to rival Ouattara after November elections, which the United Nations said Gbagbo lost.

International sanctions and previous mediation efforts have failed to budge Gbagbo, who has been accused of using his military to slaughter hundreds of civilians in a clampdown.

In recent weeks, the rebel New Forces, which control the north of the country, backed by other militaries and operating under the new name Republican Forces of Cote D'Ivoire (FRCI), have sprung into action.

Alain Leroy of the UN mission in Ivory Coast told French television station France 24 that most of Gbagbo's forces had deserted.

The UN mission's chief Choi Young Jin told broadcaster France Info that Gbagbo's only remaining assets were the Republican Guard and special forces after about 50,000 police and other security forces deserted.

Meanwhile, a Gbagbo aide told France 24 that the embattled leader would not step down.