Ivory Coast calm as rivals hold positions

Fighters loyal to Ivory Coast presidential rivals Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara held onto positions around the main city Abidjan on Sunday, a day that saw less fighting than the previous three.

Following the three days of pitched battles, Reuters correspondents and witnesses said the main city in the world's top cocoa-growing nation was calm, with sporadic gunfire and explosions heard in some neighbourhoods.



Forces loyal to presidential claimant Ouattara are battling to forcefully remove Gbagbo, who has refused to step down after a disputed election that has rekindled a civil war it was meant to end.



"There was an attack planned (on Saturday) on the presidential residence, but it didn't happen, possibly because of the human shield (Young Patriots) around it," a Western diplomat said.



"But it seems to have started up again. I'm hearing some booms from the direction of RTI (state television)," the diplomat told Reuters early on Sunday.



The relative lull in fighting allowed residents to venture out in search for food and water while others went to church to pray.



After swiftly taking control of swathes of the country, pro-Ouattara forces have met fierce resistance over the past three days in Abidjan where troops loyal to Gbagbo have held on to positions around the presidential palace, Gbagbo's residence, and the state television.



Initially suffering heavy defeats and defections among the top ranks in his army, Gbagbo counts about 3,000 republican guards, some loyal soldiers and his youth wing, the Young Patriots, who have responded to calls to form a human chain around the presidential palace and Gbagbo's residence.













The fighting has brought the number of people killed since the post-election violence began in November to more than 1,300 with reports of carnage in the west of the country in which aid organisations said more than 1,000 people were killed.



The United Nations mission in Ivory Coast (ONUCI) said on Saturday that traditional hunters known as Dozos had joined Ouattara's forces in killing 330 people in the western town of Duekoue. Ouattara rejected allegations that his forces took part in the massacre of the civilians.



The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Saturday that at least 800 people were killed in intercommunal violence in Duekoue this week. It is not clear whether the 330 counted by ONUCI is included in that figure.



UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a conversation late on Saturday with Ouattara he was "concerned and alarmed" about reports pro-Ouattara forces may have killed civilians. Ouattara told him his forces were not involved in the killings.



France said its forces took over Abidjan airport to facilitate the evacuation of foreigners and sent an additional 300 troops to Ivory Coast, bringing its total deployment to 1,500.



France's Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said evacuation of its 12,000 citizens in Ivory Coast was under consideration.



"This is a question which is being asked and which will be settled in the next few hours," Longuet said in an interview on French television LCI.



At Abidjan airport, a security source said he saw French forces bringing in reinforcements. "There were seven big planes and I counted 50 armoured vehicles," he said.



In Paris, armed forces spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said that by taking over the airport, France had "control over the airspace (which) allows those who wish to leave the country to do so".



Around 1,600 foreigners, of whom about half are French, have taken refuge at a French military camp close to the airport.



"Currently, the threat to security stems from the fact that there are nearly no policemen or security forces in the streets (of Abidjan)," Burkhard said.



Burkhard said about 170 foreigners of varied nationalities took military flights from Abidjan to Dakar in Senegal and Lome in Togo on Sunday, but added it was not an evacuation per se.



A military source in Dakar said 48 French citizens and four Belgians would be arriving in Dakar on a military flight at 2100 GMT from Abidjan but did not specify if they were among the 170.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

News
people

Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband

News
The Bounceway, designed by Architecture for Humanity
newsLondon to add 'The Bounceway' to commuting options
Life and Style
Stefan Gates with some mince flies
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rooney Mara plays a white Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
filmFirst look at Rooney Mara in Pan
Life and Style
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
tech
Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen / Interiors Designer - Maternity Cover

£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company with a fast ...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Sales Counter Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This Market Leading Kitchen and joinery suppli...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Carpenter / Carpentry

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior Carpenter / Carpentry ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - Marketing Technology - £120k

£65000 - £90000 per annum + £150k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: An award winning innova...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital