BOUAKE, Ivory Coast (Reuters) - Ivory Coast rebels said they captured the western town of Toulepleu from pro-Gbabgo forces and militias on Sunday, continuing a push south that threatens to reignite civil war in the West African state.
Heavy fighting erupted in western Ivory Coast between rebels and forces loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, sources along the Liberian border told Reuters on Sunday, a week after the rebels captured two smaller towns to the north of it.
"Since 1410 (on Sunday), the town of Toulepleu has been under the control of the New Forces (anti-Gbagbo rebels). We managed to seize some arms," Mara Lassine, military spokesman for the rebels in the western zone, told Reuters by telephone.
There was no immediate comment from Gbagbo's military. The town is not strategically significant.
Ivory Coast has been in turmoil since a disputed November election that threatens to rekindle the West African state's 2002-03 civil war, and has already drastically cut exports from the world's top cocoa grower.
The standoff has escalated into open armed conflict in the west and parts of the main commercial city Abidjan, and fears of another civil war have pushed cocoa futures to their highest for decades.
(Reporting by Charles Bamba; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Andrew Roche)