France demands end to violence against civilians in I. Coast

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France on Saturday called for restraint in Ivory Coast and an end to violence against civilians after the UN reported mass killings in the west of the country.

The statement issued by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said "France, along with (internationally recognised) President (Alassane) Ouattara, solemnly calls on all Ivorian parties to exert the greatest restraint and strictly abstain from any violence against civilians."

The UN mission in Ivory Coast on Saturday said 330 people were killed earlier this week at Duekoue in the west.

Of those around 230 were allegedly killed by fighters loyal to Ouattara.

The other 100 were killed by mercenaries fighting for his rival Laurent Gbagbo who has refused to step down after disputed November polls, the UN said.

"Very concerning information that is in the process of being verified shows grave violence committed in recent days against the civilian population in different parts of Ivory Coast," the statement added.

"Too many attacks, too many crimes have already been committed in Ivory Coast over the last four months. Those who are guilty of human rights abuses should know that they will be held to account," it said.

© 2011 AFP

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