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"Decisive" battle being fought in Abidjan

"Decisive" battle being fought in Abidjan
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Fierce fighting and explosions erupted in central Abidjan on Saturday as rival forces battled for control of the city for the third consecutive day.

Soldiers backing Ivory Coast’s President-elect Alassane Ouattara again shelled the residence of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo.

But Ouattara’s army chief warned that their offensive “has not yet begun.”

The attacks prompted a televised plea from Damana Picas, a former leader of a pro-Gbagbo youth group, the Young Patriots.

He called on people “to defend their neighbourhoods and hunt down the rebels.”

“Converge on Mr Laurent Gbagbo’s residence and make a human shield around it,” he said.

As the violence escalates, world powers have urged Gbagbo to cede power to Ouattara.

The former IMF economist is the internationally recognised winner of the disputed November 28 presidential election.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said at least 800 people were killed in the western town of Duekoue last week.

If confirmed, it would bring the death toll to about 1,300 since the political deadlock began.

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