Wednesday, March 30, 2011

War drums beating: Ivory Coast: Pro-Ouattara fighters 'enter Yamoussoukro'

Forces loyal to UN-backed President-elect Alassane Ouattara have entered Ivory Coast's capital, residents of Yamoussoukro say.

His forces have been advancing from the north and incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo has appealed for a ceasefire.

Mr Gbagbo refuses to stand down despite the UN saying he lost November's poll.

Abidjan in Ivory Coast's main city, but a BBC reporter says Yamoussoukro's capture would be a major symbolic victory for the pro-Ouattara forces.

Some one million people have fled the violence - mostly in Abidjan - and at least 462 people have been killed since December, according to the UN.

In the western town of Duekoue, thousands of people have taken refuge in a church compound to escape the fighting this week.

In Abidjan, the UN says attacks on civilians by pro-Gbagbo youths have continued.

The BBC's John James in the northern city of Bouake, in territory held by the pro-Ouattara forces, says the enrolment of these youths into the army is due to start on Wednesday to replace soldiers who are not turning up for work or who have changed sides. (read more)