Ivory Coast rebels claim control of president's residence

Other News Materials 5 April 2011 06:15 (UTC +04:00)

Forces backing Ivory Coast's internationally- recognized President Alassane Ouattara succeeded late Monday to take control of the presidential residence of rival President Laurent Gbagbo, a rebel spokesperson said, dpa reported.

"Our forces got inside the residence an hour ago," Anne Ouloto told the German Press Agency at 2300 GMT Monday. "Now they are conducting search operations in the surroundings of the residence."

The private presidential residence is located in Cocody, an eastern suburb, and was one of the main targets of Republican Forces as they laid siege to the city. At the same time Monday night, United Nations peacekeeping forces were firing on heavy weapons and tanks operated by Gbagbo loyalsts, under orders to protect civilians who have taken the brunt of the fighting.

Gbagbo has refused to step down after November elections, and despite intense pressure from the international community to do so.

The UN peacekeeping mission has been under attack by Gbagbo forces, and earlier received orders to prevent Gbagbo's forces from using heavy weapons against civilians, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in New York.

Gbagbo's forces have stationed heavy weapons at several barracks in Abidjan as well as presidential buildings. The Presidential Palace in the Plateau suburb, south of Abidjan, is separate from the residence as the place of work for the president.