Army opens fire on opposition neighborhoods
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Security forces loyal to the sitting president who is refusing to cede power descended on an opposition stronghold Wednesday and opened fire for the second time in as many days, only hours after opposition supporters had taken to the streets in protest.
Journalists who approached the Abobo area heard shots ringing out but could not get close. Residents here voted in large numbers for opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, who was internationally recognized as the winner of the presidential election.
With the backing of the army, the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to leave the presidential palace. In the weeks since the Nov. 28 ballot, the U.N. has said that more than 210 people have been killed, mostly Ouattara supporters.
On Tuesday, four civilians were killed during an early morning raid on PK 18, a section of Abobo. The bodies were left in the sand, arms splayed behind them.
Witnesses also said that at least two policemen were killed in retaliation by the population. Overnight Wednesday, residents cowered for hours as shooting continued. When calm returned in the morning, hundreds took to the streets in front of the mayors office, torching cars and vandalizing buildings in protest over the police raids.
Ouattara, a 68-year-old former World Bank economist, is from the countrys north, home to a rebel group that backs him and that launched a rebellion in 2002.
State TV controlled by Gbagbo has accused the New Forces rebels of infiltrating pro-Ouattara neighborhoods and stashing arms in order to launch ambushes against the loyalist army.