Gbagbo fighters gain ground

2011-04-09 12:40

United Nations - Fighters loyal to besieged Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo gained territory in the main city on Friday and are still using tanks and many other weapons, the UN peacekeeping chief said.

But the United Nations rejected involvement in any bid by fighters supporting internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara to starve Gbagbo out of his bunker in Abidjan.

Gbagbo forces are now just one kilometre from Ouattara's headquarters after gaining ground in the battle against Ouattara, peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told reporters after a UN Security Council briefing on the Ivory Coast crisis.

The Plateau and Cocody districts of Abidjan are now in the hands of Gbagbo fighters, he said.

Gbagbo's general had used an offer of negotiations over a possible surrender on Tuesday "as a trick to reinforce their position", Le Roy added.

Three Gbagbo generals told the United Nations they wanted talks but Gbagbo then refused to surrender.

"They have still many heavy weapons in hand," Le Roy said, adding that there were pictures of tanks, M-21 rocket launchers, rocket propelled grenade launchers and armoured personnel carriers.

Though the Ouattara camp has called off negotiations, the United Nations remains in contact with the strongman's entourage. And Le Roy said the UN would have no part of any attempt to starve Gbagbo out of his bunker.

The UN force in Ivory Coast, Unoci, has no mandate "to starve out anyone," Le Roy told reporters. "We have nothing to do with that. I must be very clear. We are not supporting that, having any part in that."

Ouattara's generals, who have surrounded Gbagbo, have suggested they would cut off food and water supplies to force him to give up.

Asked whether UN forces might give food and water to Gbagbo, Le Roy said no decision had been taken, "maybe".

Read more on:    unoci  |  laurent gbagbo  |  ivory coast  |  west africa
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