Armed men kidnap French, others in I Coast: France

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Armed men kidnapped several people, including two French nationals, from the Novotel hotel in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan on Monday, the French foreign ministry said.

About four or five people were kidnapped, a diplomatic source added separately.

"We confirm the kidnapping by armed men of several people, including two French nationals, at the Novotel hotel in Abidjan this afternoon," foreign affairs spokesman Bernard Valero said.

"We are mobilised and our embassy is doing everything possible to find the kidnapped individuals."

According to French radio Europe 1, the French kidnap victims were the director of the hotel and a businessman.

The kidnappings happened several hours before UN and French military forces launched operations against military camps for troops for outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo, the presidential palace and his residence.

Gbagbo's camp denounced the actions as "an assassination attempt".

France, meanwhile, has grouped its nationals under military protection at three areas around Abidjan with a view to their ultimate evacuation.

© 2011 AFP

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