French military forces have been stepping up their action in Ivory Coast where a conflict between two claimants to the Presidency is becoming increasingly bitter.
French helicopter gunships fired missiles on a military camp in Abidjan shortly after Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris gave the go-ahead for his troops to join a UN operation against forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.
Gbagbo has been clinging onto power since a disputed election last November even though there is widespread international opinion that he lost.
The standoff that followed the vote has steadily deteriorated into a re-run of the country’s civil war of 2002 and 2003.
But now Gbagbo forces are being increasingly hemmed-in in Abidjan which is their last stronghold.
The French foreign ministry said two of its citizens were kidnapped along with several other nationals as fierce fighting swept through Ivory Coast’s main city.
Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the man internationally recognised as the rightful president, have been flooding into Abidjan after swiftly taking control of the rest of the country.
Their commanding officer has predicted that once the offensive begins for real, they will take the city in 48 hours.