French, UN forces in I. Coast fire on Gbagbo positions

10th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN and French forces in Ivory Coast have fired on the positions of forces loyal to strongman Laurent Gbagbo in a bid to destroy his heavy weapons, a spokesman for the UN mission told AFP Sunday.

A separate source close to the operation said helicopters with the UNOCI mission and France's Licorne force had fired on armoured vehicles outside Gbagbo's residence and inside the presidential palace.

"We have resumed the operation aimed at neutralising heavy weapons wherever they are found," UN mission spokesman Hamadoun Toure said.

"UNOCI and Licorne have aimed at targets in numerous locations, notably around the presidential palace and in the area of the presidential residence," he added.

They had also targeted camps where reconnaissance operations had identified heavy weapons, he said, without providing details.

"In the last three or four days, we saw the use of these heavy arms against the civilian population and peacekeepers.

"Firing on the headquarters of UNOCI continued, so there was a need to react to protect the civilian population in conformity with our mandate," he said.

The source close to the operation told AFP: "Helicopters fired several missiles at armoured vehicles outside the residence of Laurent Gbagbo," in Abijdan's northern Cocody district.

"They also fired several missiles on armoured vehicles in the heart of the presidential palace," in the city's Plateau district nearby, the source said.

One resident of Cocody reporting seeing "a French helicopter fire four missiles towards the residence" shortly before 5:00 pm (1700 GMT).

A resident living near the Plateau district said he had seen three helicopters firing on the presidential compound.

"For some minutes, black smoke has been rising into the sky beside the palace," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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