Gbagbo backers denounce 'assassination' bid
Backers of Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo on Wednesday accused French troops and forces loyal to his rival Alassane Ouattara of staging an assassination attempt by attacking his residence and the presidential palace.
"Heavy weapons fire is targeting his residence with aerial and ground support from Licorne," Gbagbo's spokesman Ahoua Don Mello said, referring to the name of the French forces in the country.
"It is an attempted assassination of president Gbagbo."
Ouattara forces have admitted launching an assault in a bid to force a defiant Gbagbo to surrender.
Licorne (Unicorn) spokesman Frederic Daguillon denied his troops' involvement.
"Licorne is not participating in the assault and is dedicating itself Wednesday to the protection of foreign citizens," he said.
"Today the Licorne force will make contact with foreigners north of the bridges (linking the suburbs of Plateau and Treichville) to know if they would like to be placed under French protection."
© 2011 AFP