Nine French soldiers killed in Cote d'Ivoire

Clashes erupted on Saturday betweenFrench forces stationed in Cote d'Ivoire and government troops after nine French soldiers were killed in a government offensive.

Two Cote d'Ivoire fighter jets raided one of the French positions in the central rebel stronghold of Bouake in the afternoon, killing nine soldiers and injuring dozens more of its Unicorn peacekeeping force.

Authorities said it was a mistake of aim made by pilots of two Sukhoi-25 fighters, which threw a 250-kg bomb at a French positionmanned by 1,000 soldiers.

Cote d'Ivoire government forces have been pounding some rebel-held positions in the north of the country since Thursday.

In response to the attack, French forces destroyed two invadingSukhoi-25 fighters and one MI-24 helicopter.

Demonstrators rallied in Abidjan to protest the destruction of two government military aircraft by French forces.

Some took revenge. Four French high schools were burnt by angrydemonstrators, some of whom also looted families of French citizens in Abidjan.

Men throw water on a blaze at the Librarie de France bookstore in Abidjan's chic Cocody quarter. Young "patriotic" partisans of President Laurent Gbagbo looted French property in Abidjan after French armed forces destroyed two government military aircraft. Cote d'Ivoire government warplanes bombed French positions in the rebel-held town of Bouake in the central part of the country Saturday, killing nine French soldiers, Nov. 6, 2004. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Paris urged Cote d'Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo to restore peace in his country.

"The head of state should clearly ensure his responsibility andit is his role to restore peace in his country, especially in Abidjan," French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in a statement.

France's three Mirage fighter jets and a KC-135 supply aircraftare on alert in the Gabonese capital Libreville, French Defense Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau said.

Cote d'Ivoire was plunged into civil war in September 2002 after a failed coup. The country remains divided despite a 2003 cease-fire agreement between the government and rebels, who are still holding the north of the country.

France has 4,000 peacekeepers to monitor the truce alongside 6,000 UN peacekeeping troops in this former French colony.

Source: Xinhua



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