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ARMED MEN FIRE AT UN PEACEKEEPERS IN CÔTE D'IVOIRE

By UN
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18 December - Armed men in military uniform fired shots in the direction of a patrol vehicle of the United Nations peacekeeping troops in Côte d'Ivoire overnight, the mission said today, reiterating its call for calm in the West African country where a tense standoff over the outcome of the presidential election resulted in violence this week.

The UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) said one of its vehicles on a routine patrol in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire's commercial capital, was followed by a group of six armed men in a civilian car. Outside the UNOCI headquarters, the men fired shots in the direction of the UNOCI patrol vehicle as it entered the compound. The assailants continued firing along the wall of the compound, forcing the sentry to return fire.

“UNOCI reiterates its appeal for calm and serenity and calls on all parties concerned to avoid any recourse to violence,” the mission said in a statement.

Côte d'Ivoire has been plunged into political uncertainty after the incumbent president refused to concede electoral defeat recently. The UN has endorsed the victory of opposition leader and President-elect, Alassane Ouattara, in the run-off presidential elections held on 28 November, despite outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo's claim to have won.

Heavy fighting broke out on Thursday between elements of the Forces Nouvelles and the Forces de défense et de sécurité, which had reinforced their checkpoints on the main passages to the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where President-elect Ouattara has been based.