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Gbagbo digs in as Abidjan siege intensifies

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Gbagbo digs in as Abidjan siege intensifies

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How long can Laurent Gbagbo resist?

As attacks intensify on his presidential palace and residence, Ivory Coast’s embattled leader is digging in his heels.

But a week into the battle for Abidjan, he is surrounded by forces loyal to his arch-rival Alassane Ouattara. And Gbagbo has only around 1,000 troops left, according to France.

With the Ivory Coast’s former colonial power involved in attacks on Gbagbo’s weaponry and military vehicles, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe blamed Gbagbo’s obstinacy for the use of force.

Juppe said that after Gbagbo’s “inevitable” downfall “we must support a policy of forgiveness and national reconciliation.”

Forces from France have defended the residence of its own ambassador and staged a dramatic rescue of Japan’s top diplomat in Ivory Coast.

Gbagbo’s refusal to recognise Ouattara’s victory in November’s election has plunged the country into violence that has claimed more than 1,500 lives.