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27/02/2011 | Africa - Ivorian army pledges to restore order to Abidjan

Reuters Staff

Army says fighting in west, will bring order to city.Residents report gunfire in Abidjan after lull.

 

Forces loyal to Ivory Coast's incumbent Laurent Gbagbo were fighting on Saturday to push back rebels in the west of the country and would soon "restore order" to a pro-opposition neighbourhood, the army chief said.

Soon after General Philippe Mangou made the comments witnesses said gunfire erupted in Abobo, an Abidjan stronghold of Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara, which has seen days of heavy clashes this week.

The United Nations has warned that the rebel advance in the west and the urban warfare between the factions embroiled in a post-election power struggle were pushing the top cocoa grower back to the brink of another civil war.

"It is going well in the West. It is stabilising and we have retaken the town of Bin-Houye and we are at Zouhan-Hounien where there is fighting with the rebels but we are making progress," Mangou said on Saturday.

The New Forces rebels, who have backed Ouattara, said they had been attacked this week and retaliated by taking Zouhan-Hounien, which had been in government control.

The fighting in the west came on the back of days of exchanges of heavy weapons fire in the densely populated neighbourhood of Abobo that caused hundreds to flee their homes.

Amid heavy rain overnight, residents reported a lull in the violence before gunfire was reported on Saturday afternoon, soon after Mangou said the armed force would "restore order quickly" as they knew where the gunmen were.

It was not immediately possible to say who was involved in the shooting in Abobo on Saturday.

Ouattara was declared winner of a Nov. 28 poll by U.N.-certified election results and has been internationally recognised as president but Gbagbo, who has the support of much fo the armed forces, has refused to step down.

An election that was meant to reunify a country split since a 2002-3 civil war has instead deepened divisions and looks increasingly like to lead to the spread of further fighting.

**Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by David Lewis; editing by Sonya Hepinstall

Reuters (Estados Unidos)

 


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