Heavy fighting erupts in Cote d'Ivoire's capital

08:18, March 15, 2011      

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Heavy fighting erupted on Monday morning in Yopougon, the commercial district of Cote d'Ivoire's economic capital Abidjan, marking the first time a stronghold of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo has ever been attacked since the Nov. 28 presidential run-off.

The first gunshots were heard by eyewitnesses around the residence of the pro-Gbagbo chief of general staff of the Defense and Security Forces, Gen. Philippe Mangou, in Abidjan's residential area of Andokoua.

The exchange of fire was heard at 6 a.m. local time, causing panic among the residents of the pro-Gbagbo district.

Eyewitnesses said they saw armed men moving in groups near the first bridge of Yopougon and another group moving towards the perimeter wall of Gen. Mangou's compound.

Pro-Gbagbo soldiers who are permanently stationed around the residence returned fire at the approaching assailants. sparking the flare ever known in the district.

Units of the anti-riot brigade (BAE), an elite squad among the pro-Gbagbo forces, came to reinforce the soldiers deployed in the area and chased away the assailants.

Local residents told Xinhua on telephone that they had to stay indoors for fear of being hit by stray bullets.

The exchange of fire resumed and became even more intensified after a short period of calm, with a helicopter witnessed overhead.

Meanwhile, gunfire was reported in other places around Yopougon, especially the police station and a prison near the 23rd roundabout at the Sable sub-county.

Source: Xinhua
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