Fighting reported in Cote d'Ivoire's western town Duekoue

08:33, March 17, 2011      

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Fighting erupted in Cote d'Ivoire's western town of Duekoue on Wednesday, marking an escalation of the post-election conflict in the West African country, local sources reported.

Heavy gunfire was heard at dawn by local residents in the town traditionally held by forces loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

The rival New Forces (FN) has tended to move southward while fears are increasing about another civil war fueled by waves of violence since the Nov. 28 presidential run-off.

The FN, which now backs the internationally recognized president-elect, Alassane Ouattara, has reportedly taken four towns from Gbagbo's forces.

In the economic capital Abidjan, both camps are exchanging attacks on each other's strongholds almost on a daily basis. Gbagbo is trying to flush out Ouattara's supporters from the city, which has been traditionally under his control.

Up to 400 people have been killed and nearly 500,000 people displaced including 200,000 in Abidjan alone, according to UN sources. The situation is considered approaching the 2002-2003 civil war.

Gbagbo's government is scrambling to hold its post-war south including Abidjan under mounting pressure to quit from the international community and the FN, which has controlled the north since the war.

Source: Xinhua
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