French forces patrol in Abidjan: sources

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2011 3:02 PM
French forces patrol in Abidjan: sources

ABIDJAN/PARIS (Reuters) - French forces were patrolling in some parts of Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan, three sources said on Thursday.

One source said soldiers from the 1,000-strong French Licorne force in Ivory Coast had been deployed in Zone 4, in the south of the city.

A Western military source said others were sent to rescue French nationals being attacked in the Deux Plateaux neighborhood by youth supporters of Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent leader who has refused to leave office since a disputed election last November.

A military spokesman said the Licorne had reinforced four patrols with armored vehicles in the Zone 4 and Deux Plateaux areas to prevent armed youths targeting foreigners.

"Things are moving quite fast," armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard said. "Gangs of young troublemakers are trying to take advantage of the situation and the security vacuum that is being created," he said.

"No shots were fired at the French soldiers and they didn't open fire," he said. "French nationals are not specifically targeted."

France's embassy in Abidjan on Thursday updated its advice to its citizens, urging people to stay at home and avoid going out at night.

(Reporting by Ange Aboa, Tim Cocks, John Irish and Elisabeth Pineau in Paris; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland)