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Gbagbo troops repel rebel attacks amid int'l calls to stand down

04-02-2011 15:29 BJT

ABIDJAN, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Troops loyal to incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo fended off attacks from forces backing internationally recognized successor Alassane Ouattara here Friday, as the world community stepped up calls for Gbagbo to step down.

Heavy fighting centered on Gbagbo's residence and presidential palace in the capital, which are surrounded by a natural lagoon.

Gbagbo's most reliable soldiers from the elite Republic Guard are making final stand at what is one of his last strongholds.

A pitched battle also took place at the state television station, which stopped transmitting after being attacked by pro-Ouattara forces Thursday night. But it resumed broadcasting pro-Gbagbo programs late Friday.

Clashes also erupted at the Gallieni camp, an important military camp not far from the presidential palace in Abidjan's administrative district of Plateau.

The crackling of automatic weapons followed by explosions intensified in the district, which has become a "ghost town" since Thursday.

The residence of Philippe Mangou, chief of the general staff for the Ivorian Defense and Security Forces, was looted Friday.

Mangou took refuge at the residence of the South African ambassador to Abidjan Wednesday night.

Ouattara's troops, meeting little resistance during their southward march from Monday, reached Abidjan, the country's economic capital and biggest city, on Thursday.

Ouattara's troops have been seen patrolling the streets in Abidjan, where Ouattara, after having been holed up in a hotel for months, ordered soldiers loyal to Gbagbo to surrender in a national address on Thursday.

Cote d'Ivoire, the world's top cocoa producer, has been gripped by an all-out armed conflict since a Nov. 28 presidential run-off that both Gbagbo and Ouattara claim to have won.

Many international organizations and countries Friday reiterated their calls for Gbagbo's immediate resignation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, "I renew my call on Mr. Gbagbo to step down to avoid further violence and transfer power immediately to the legitimate winner of the election, President Ouattara."

The African Union, the United States and France made similar calls.

South Africa said it was implementing a UN Security Council resolution by freezing assets of Gbagbo and his allies in the country.

However, Gbagbo pledged to fight to the bitter end and wouldn't leave his office.

Gbagbo's presidential aide, Fred Anderson, said, "There is no question of ceding. It's not up to the international community to impose our leader."

The United Nations estimates some 500 people have been killed in the post-election violence and more than 1 million people have fled their homes.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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