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Cote d'Ivoire

Violent battle for control of Côte d'Ivoire's largest city Abidjan

Reuters/Emmanuel Braun

Fighting raged in Côte d'Ivoire, on Saturday as rival forces battled for control of the country's largest city, Abidjan. In a sign of how deadly the Ivorian conflict has become, the International Committee of the Red Cross said at least 800 people were killed in the western town of Duekoue last week.

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Battles shook Abidjan as forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of last November's elections, pressed an offensive to oust forces controlled by incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.

Pro-Ouattara fighters clashed with pro-Gbagbo rivals around the city's presidential palace, the state radio station and key military bases.

Also on Saturday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said at least 800 people were killed in the western town of Duekoue this week.

The fighting stemmed from ongoing tensions between ethnic groups, said Kelnor Panglungtshang, spokesperson of the Red Cross in Abidjan.

"We already saw the post-election crisis aggravated and multiplied tensions and lead to clashes," he said, adding that fighting previously happened in Duekoue and the surrounding area in January.

Amnesty International earlier reported attacks on civilians in the area committed by forces loyal to both Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo.

The Red Cross urged to keep the first priority on protecting civilians.

"All the forces in a certain area have the responsibility to protect the civilian population," Panglungtshang said.
 

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