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The United Nations says scores of women and children have been killed in recent days by forces loyal to Ivory Coast presidential claimant Laurent Gbagbo. The African Union warns the country is sliding into civilian war.
A United Nations human rights officer on Thursday has said the death toll from months of deadlock between Laurent Gbagbo and Allassane Outarra has risen to 462.
Both men claim victory in the Ivory Coast presidential election.
World leaders have recognized Ouattara as Ivory Coast’s president. But Gbagbo refuses to stand down, with the backing of much of the armed forces.
He accuses the international community of interfering in a sovereign matter.
[Guillaume N’Guefa, UN Human Rights Officer]:
''These Special Forces, buttressed by young militia have also invaded the areas of Adjame, Attecoube, Williamsville and Yopougon, indiscriminately firing explosives on populations suspected of being pro-Ouattara.''
Ouattara has called for more to be done to protect civilians.
France, which has troops in Ivory Coast, has said the UN wasn’t doing enough to protect civilians.
The local UN mission said earlier this week it was monitoring the use of heavy weapons and would take action within its mandate against any attempt to use them.
Gbagbo's government has repeatedly denied allegations its forces have used heavy weapons against civilians, and accuses the UN mission of siding with "rebels" trying to oust him.
The chairman of the African Union said in Paris that Ivory Coast was dangerously close to falling into civil war.