- Title: IVORY COAST: Violence escalating across Ivory Coast's main city
- Date: 16th March 2011
- Summary: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (MARCH 15, 2011) (REUTERS) ROAD BARRIERS PUT UP BY PRO-OUATTARA SUPPORTERS AFTER FIGHTING DURING NIGHT OF MARCH 14
- Embargoed: 31st March 2011 13:00
- Location: Cote d'Ivoire
- Country: Ivory Coast
- Topics: War / Fighting
- Reuters ID: LVA2DCEBA1VZCCY1I406EI62HBIC
- Story Text: Gunmen shot dead four people on Tuesday (March 15) near a roadblock run by youth supporters of Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo in the Abidjan suburb of Deux Plateau, several witnesses said.
The world's leading cocoa-producing country has been in violent turmoil since a disputed election pitting incumbent leader Gbagbo against rival Alassane Ouattara. U.N.-certified results showed Ouattara won, but Gbagbo has refused to concede.
"There was full combat, there were grenades and artillery shells, which they launched, that's what burnt down all the shops you see back there," said one witness.
Another witness said one of the dead was initially badly wounded and was rushed to a local clinic where he died.
Battles between gunmen backing Gbagbo and Ouattara have raged in the northern Abidjan Ouattara stronghold of Abobo for three weeks but shifted this week closer to the centre of town.
The election was meant to draw a line under years of crisis after a rebellion divided the country into a rebel-held north and a government controlled south, but has merely entrenched the divisions and threatened to reignite a 2002-3 civil war.
Army chief General Philippe Mangou, whose immediate neighbourhood in west Abidjan was the scene of intense gun battles on Monday (March 14) told the pro-Gbagbo newspaper Notre Voie on Tuesday that his forces were ready for war.
Fighting has also spread to the west, across a north-south ceasefire line in place since the end of the 2002-3 war, increasing fears that an election that was meant to reunite the country will instead reignite the conflict.
On Monday pro-Ouattara gunmen advanced as far as Adjame, close to the central business district, in heavy combat that killed at least one person, and launched two simultaneous attacks in the Gbabgo stronghold of Yopougon.
"We want our country freed in one week. We are too tired," a pro-Ouattera fighter said.
Several buildings in the neighbourhood of Williamsville, part of Adjame were still smoking.
The dead body of a civilian lay on the main motorway leading into it. A Reuters team was unable to go deep into the neighbourhood because of a road block by pro-Gbabgo youths, often armed and violent.
The latest African Union (AU) effort to mediate in the dispute in the world's top cocoa grower failed last week, underpinning cocoa futures' 32-year highs.
Forces loyal to Gbagbo said they launched an assault on Saturday to drive pro-Ouattara fighters calling themselves "invisible commandos" out of northern Abidjan 's Abobo district, where they have held sway for three weeks.
On Monday, the commandos appeared to have expanded the territory in which they operate to areas 10km from their base, although security sources say many have since been pushed back.
Witnesses did not know if the shooting was linked to the growing rebellion against Gbagbo or not.
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