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UN peacekeepers attacked in Ivory Coast

Three UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast have been injured in an attack carried out by security forces in the capital city of Abidjan as the country’s deadlock deteriorates.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Wednesday that the assault took place in Abidjan’s Abobo neighborhood on Tuesday night as peacekeepers belonging to UN mission in Ivory Coast were patrolling the area, dpa reported.

The UN troops were in Abobo to launch an investigation into reports that the sitting President Laurent Gbagbo’s forces were shooting people and evacuating houses in the area, Nesirky explained.

“As soon as the mission was made aware, it made contact at the political level with Mr. Gbagbo’s team and sent two patrols that were blocked by those people manning the checkpoints,” he said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has repeatedly voiced concern about the killing and abduction of civilians in the North African nation.

The world body has recognized Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo’s rival in the disputed November 28 presidential election, as the winner of the vote. However, Gbagbo has refused to step down in spite of mounting international pressure.

Relations between Ivory Coast and the United Nations were further strained when the world body accepted a new Ivorian ambassador appointed by Ouattara.

The UN has decided to step up pressure on Gbagbo by increasing the number of its peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast from 9,500 to 11,500, pending a resolution by the Security Council sought by the peacekeeping department.

As many as 800 UN troops are presently guarding the Golf Hotel where Ouattara has been confined by the Ivorian government since shortly after the vote results were announced.

Gbagbo has accused the UN of meddling in the domestic affairs of the country and has asked the international peacekeeping forces to leave.

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