Added by David Sandercock on April 3, 2011
Intense fighting has erupted in the Ivory Coast around the home of under-siege leader Laurent Gbagbo and the presidential palace in Abidjan, the AFP reports.
The conflict between supporters of the outgoing president and those of internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara is said to have started on Thursday night in the vicinity of Gbagbo’s residence in Abidjan.
It is reported to have been spurred on by Gbagbo’s refusal to meet his Thursday deadline for stepping down from power after loosing the election in November of last year.
A local man from the northern suburb of Cocody, where Gbagbo lives, told an AFP reporter “The shooting doesn’t stop. Gbagbo’s men are resisting in all their positions… We are hearing deafening artillery shots, RPG7 (rockets) and machine guns.”
It is reported that nearly 500 people have died in post-election clashes, with another million or so having had to flee their homes.
Foreigners have also been forced to seek refuge. Some 500 internationals were on Thursday admitted to the French military camp in Port-Bouet, south of Abidjan.
A Swedish employee of the United Nations was shot and killed in Abidjan on Thursday night. The woman, in her 30s, is thought to have been hit by a stray bullet.