Deadly violence returns to Abidjan

Soldiers backing Ivory Coast’s rogue leader fired on civilians again today killing at least four people after hundreds took to the streets to protest the deaths of seven women gunned down at a march last week.

Soldiers backing Ivory Coast’s rogue leader fired on civilians again today killing at least four people after hundreds took to the streets to protest the deaths of seven women gunned down at a march last week.

The women’s march in the Treichville district of Abidjan had already ended when the security forces burst into the area and began shooting.

Earlier hundreds of others had gathered in the Abobo suburb near the pavement where at least seven unarmed women were shot last Thursday.

Many of the organisers of that demonstration stayed home today fearing reprisals by security forces.

But hundreds of others took to the streets in defiance on International Women’s Day to express their disgust at the regime of strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

Gbagbo has refused to cede power even though the country’s election commission declared opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the winner of the November 28 vote. Nearly 400 people have already been killed, most of them civilians who voted for Mr Ouattara.

But the violence against the all-women’s march prompted an international outcry.

More than 200,000 people have fled Abobo after Gbagbo’s security forces entered the area and began shelling it with mortars.

Fighting also has broken out in western Ivory Coast, where rebels allied with Mr Ouattara have seized control of a nearly 30-mile corridor along the country’s border with Liberia.

Hopes linger for a negotiated solution, even after a high-level African Union panel of five presidents extended its timeline for mediation by a month.

Previous attempts to mediate have fallen flat after Gbagbo rejected offers of amnesty, exile and teaching positions in the United States.

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