UN operation in Cote d'Ivoire condemns attack on helicopter

14:12, March 30, 2011      

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The United Nations operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) condemned the attack on their helicopter, which was shot at on Monday, said a UN spokesperson here on Tuesday.

"A helicopter belonging to the United Nations operation in Cote d'Ivoire was shot at on Monday afternoon while on a reconnaissance flight over Duekoue," Martin Nesirky, the UN spokesperson, said here in a daily noon briefing.

"The mission says that elements of the force Republican Cote d' Ivoire fired at the helicopter but failed to hit it."

The "Republican Forces" are loyal to Cote d'Ivoire's presidency claimant Alassane Ouattara.

In a statement from UNOCI, the mission "strongly condemned the attack against its peacekeepers and appealed to the relevant authorities to do everything to identity those responsible so that they can be accountable for their action," said Nesirky.

The mission adds that forces loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo shot at innocent civilians on Monday afternoon in Williamsville, Abidjan, killing about a dozen people, Nesirky said.

"Another group attacked two staff members of the UN Mission," he said.

"The UN mission condemns this wave of attacks against civilians and warns that these acts will not go unpunished."

When asked about UNOCI's position regarding Ouattara's forces, the spokesperson said that, with each side, "the mission has made clear that civilians need to be protected."

"Armed moves from either side have caused people to flee from their homes."

Cote d'Ivoire has plunged into a political crisis since the Nov. 28 presidential run-off with both Gbagbo and Ouattara claiming the presidency. The post-election violence has killed more than 460 people and displaced 500,000 others, with armed clashes escalating to the edge of another civil war.

The African Union has sent several missions to Cote d'Ivoire to persuade Gbagbo to cede power to Ouattara, but no breakthrough has been reported so far. A panel of five African presidents is still working on a solution to the crisis.

Source: Xinhua
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