UN chief says raids not meant to bring down Gbagbo

4th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday that helicopter raids by UN and French forces in Ivory Coast were to protect civilians and did not mean the global body had taken up arms against strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

The UN leader said in a statement that he had ordered the UN mission in Ivory Coast, UNOCI, to start "a military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons which threaten the civilian population of Abidjan."

UN and French attack helicopters fired at military camps loyal to strongman Laurent Gbagbo and the presidential palace and residence. Gbagbo's forces have been accused of killing civilians and attacking UN peacekeepers.

"Let me emphasize that UNOCI is not a party to the conflict," Ban said. "In line with its Security Council mandate, the mission has taken this action in self defense and to protect civilians."

© 2011 AFP

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