Gbagbo men shot at UN troops in Ivory Coast

January 18, 2011 12:00 am

, ABIDJAN, Jan 18 – UN troops assigned to the Kenyan prime minister mediating in Ivory Coast came under fire from Laurent Gbagbo supporters, the force said Tuesday, condemning "repeated acts of aggression".

The peacekeepers were forced to respond to the shooting on Monday by firing into the air, the United Nations Operation in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) said in a statement.

Gbagbo has refused to step down from the presidency after the election authority announced he lost November 28 polls, despite the efforts of mediators and threat of military action.

A group of young people from Gbagbo\’s camp on Monday encircled UN forces waiting at a luxury hotel for the arrival of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the African Union mediator in the standoff, the UN statement said.

"The armed elements, who were supporting them, opened fired in the direction of the UNOCI vehicles forcing the peacekeepers to respond by shooting in the air," it said.

The statement accused state broadcaster RTI of falsifying reporting on the incident as part of an "ongoing campaign whose objective is to incite hatred among president Gbagbo\’s supporters against UNOCI."

Gbagbo government spokesman Ahoua Don told AFP on Monday that the incident, which was in the Plateau area where the strongman is supported, had caused some light injuries although not from the gunfire.

Gbagbo has repeatedly demanded that UN forces leave the country.

The UN Security Council will however vote Tuesday to send 2,000 extra troops to Ivory Coast to step up pressure on him to step down, diplomats said. The new deployment will bring the UN force up to about 11,500 troops.

Odinga held talks Monday with Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara, recognised by the international community as the election winner, and said afterwards there had been some progress.


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