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Sabtu, 5 Mac 2011

IVORY COAST : FEARS OF A CIVIL WAR INTENSIFY.


Security forces loyal to strongman President Laurent Gbagbo guard a street below an armed United Nations watch tower on March 3. UN officials have said more than 200,000 people have fled the intensified fighting.
The three-month long conflict in Ivory Coast has entered a particularly bloody stage. Nearly 400 people have been killed in the west African country, including 32 on March 3 alone, almost all of them men who had voted for opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, according to UN figures. International groups and most nations recognized Ouattara as the legitimate leader of the country after elections late last year. But Laurent Gbagbo refuses to turn over the government and loyal forces have brutally attacked Ouattara supporters. Hundreds of civilians have fled their homes trying to avoid the clashes between the two sides. International observers fear the nation is on the verge of a civil war.



After forces loyal to Ivory Coast's strongman Laurent Gbagbo sprayed a rally of female demonstrators with gunfire on March 3, residents of Abobo gathered the sandals left behind by fleeing protesters. Sirah Drane, who helped organize the march, said she was holding a megaphone and preparing to address the large crowd that had gathered at a traffic circle in Abobo. "That's when we saw the tanks," she said. "There were thousands of women. And we said to ourselves, 'They won't shoot at women.' ... I heard a boom. They started spraying us. ... I tried to run and fell down. The others trampled me. Opening fire on unarmed women? It's inconceivable."

Residents burn tires and block the street where security forces loyal to Ivory Coast's strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least seven women, on March 3 in Abobo, a working class neighborhood of Abidjan. The women were among hundreds gathered to call for the ouster of Gbagbo.

An anti-Gbagbo protester wields a machete during protests in the Abobo area of Abidjan March 3. The placard reads "Gbagbo - too much blood poured because of you."

Protesters block a road in Abidjan on March 3. Thousands of residents of Abidjan have been fleeing the area for the past week. Witnesses say bodies are strewn over several streets and alleys.

Women gather to rally against Laurent Gbagbo and urge him to step down in the Treichville neighborhood of Abidjan on Feb. 28. Minutes after this picture was taken, soldiers began firing to disperse the protesters. A similar attack took place in the Abobo neighborhood on March 3, when seven of the female protesters were killed.

A civilian died in the streets of Treichville in Abidjan, a victim of clashes between forces loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo and supporters of his rival, Alassane Ouattara. Security Forces had opened fire to disperse young supporters of Ouattara who had made barricades of tables and burning tires, residents said.

UN peacekeepers drive past supporters of Alassane Ouattara as they demonstrate and burn tires in the Abobo neighborhood in Abidjan on Feb. 19. The International Crisis Group said, a Belgian watchdog organization, said another civil war in Ivory Coast, involving widespread violence against civilians, is the "most likely scenario in the coming months."

An Ivory Coast's soldier stands guard next to supporters of strongman Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan on Feb. 5. Thousands of supporters of Gbagbo rallied against Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore's presence on an African panel mediating peace in the West African country.

Cocoa growers burn cocoa beans in front of European Union offices in Abidjan on Feb. 17 to protest against sanctions imposed on their business in a bid to increase pressure on Laurent Gbagbo. The EU has imposed a series of sanctions targeting Gbagbo that extend to the main ports of Abidjan and San Pedro, vital to the cocoa-export trade in the world's top cocoa-producing country.

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