Protesters killed in Côte d'Ivoire crackdown

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ABIDJAN, COTE D'IVOIRE: At least two people were killed on Saturday in Abidjan after Ivorian forces opened fire on protesters calling for President Laurent Gbagbo to step down, according to witnesses, the BBC reported.

Security forces fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths gathered in a neighborhood loyal to Gbagbo's rival, Alassane Ouattara, in the country's capital.

Protesters also raided the department store of a Lebanese businessmen who is seen as close to Gbagbo, according to the BBC.

Côte d'Ivoire has been in turmoil since early December when outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo, who was defeated in the November run-off elections by opposition candidate Lassane Ouattara, refused to step down despite the approval from the UN and the international community.

On Thursday, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on all sides for ending post-election crisis. The UN head voiced concern at the continuing violence and planned demonstrations which could increase tensions, undermining prospects for an early and peaceful end to the crisis.

Some 20,000 Ivorians have been internally displaced and over 33,000 more have fled to neighboring Liberia due to the violence between both sides. UN officials have warned that ethnic tensions stemming from national, racial and religious affiliation linked to the opposing camps could lead to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

The 2010 presidential elections were meant to be the culminating point in reunifying a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.


(BNO NEWS )

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