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Fresh violence as armed groups clash in Ivory Coast

A new outbreak of violence is likely in The Ivory Coast after the disputed election, rights activists warned last night (Wed) as some of the worst armed clashes to date erupted in the former capital.

At least five people from the security force were killed early yesterday in fighting in Abobo, Abidjan, a stronghold of the Rally of Republicans (RDR) party of Alassane Ouattara, a presidential candidate.

"The gun battle this morning is the worst that has occurred in Abidjan since the presidential election of November 2010, could plunge Ivory Coast into armed conflict,” said Amnesty International’s Salvatore Sagues. “There is a real risk that the population finds itself under fire fighters from both camps," he added.

"Around midnight, I heard gunfire,” one witness told the rights group. “None of my neighbours is released. This morning, near the bus station in Abobo, I saw three military vehicles and the burned corpse of a member of the security forces.

Flashpoints erupted after the violent death of at least four people in Abobo on Tuesday morning in clashes between local people and security forces who were trying to search people’s houses. The killings took happened when young people began building barricades, throwing stones and fired shots during clashes with security forces.

Two people were killed by the riot squad during house searches by security forces. On the other hand, two brothers were killed in the street, according to reports.

"If they can legitimately defend themselves when they feel their lives threatened, the security forces may commit unlawful killings of unarmed people, at home or in the street," said Mr Sagues.

Another witness told the rights group: "I saw men of the security forces to go home Lamine Ouattara, who is retired. When they knocked on the door, Lamine has refused to open. The uniformed men climbed the fence, overpowered him and shot and killed outside his home."

Yesterday security forces backing leader Laurent Gbagbo seized food trucks meant for a hotel where his rival Alassane Ouattara is besieged, and let their supporters loot them, the United Nations said last night. Gbagbo and Ouattara have been locked in a violent struggle since a November 28 election. Gbagbo refuses to step down as president, despite huge international pressure, and has ordered some 10,000 UN peacekeepers to leave in retaliation for the world body backing Ouattara as the winner of the vote.

Hayley attribution