UN, French helicopters attack Gbagbo's residence
UN and French helicopters opened fire on Sunday at the presidential residence in Abidjan, the largest city of Cote d'Ivoire, local residents reported.
The airstrike was witnessed one day after forces loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo attacked the Golf Hotel, the headquarters of his presidential rival Alassane Ouattara, who is internationally recognized and posed as the country's head of state on television this week to order the restoration of security, Xinhua reported.
Gbagbo, who has been holed up in a bunker since a week ago, seems to step up resistance in the past two days, with the resumption of the state television broadcast under his control on Friday and the shelling of the hotel the next day.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Cote d'Ivoire on Sunday confirmed the attacks by its helicopters, saying the strike aimed to "neutralize" Gbagbo's heavy weapons.UN and French sent attack helicopters earlier in the week to boost the offensive by Ouattara's Republican Forces on Gbagbo's last bastions, including his residence in Abidjan's Cocody district.
The Republican Forces launched a military blitz last week, sweeping south to take a series of towns to enter Abidjan.The war was triggered by the disputed presidential run-off on Nov. 28, the second since 2002 when the country was divided into the south controlled by Gbagbo and the north held by the ex-rebel New Forces, the backbone of the newly formed Republican Forces.
In their renewed civil war, both sides are held responsible for slaying civilians.Human Rights Watch accuse Ouattara's forces of killing hundreds of civilians and forces loyal to Gbagbo killing more than 100 in retaliation.
Although Ouattara is being urged to form a government of national unity, Gbagbo's vow no national reconciliation without the 65-year-old outgoing president, who has repeatedly rejected international calls for ceding power to Ouattara.The international community recognized Ouattara as the president-elect after Cote d'Ivoire's electoral commission declared him the winner of the election.