Ivory Coast – The presidential palace of Laurent Gbagbo has been surrounded by forces loyal to the leader of the opposition, Alassane Ouattara.
French and UN helicopters were also helping Outtara’s troops.
Outtara is the internationally recognised winner of Ivory Coast’s election, held on November 28 last year, however, president Ghagbo who has ruled the country since 2000, do not want to step down from the presidential post.
Witnesses told Reuters that the helicopters had fired four missiles.
“We saw two UN MI-24 helicopters fire missiles on the Akouedo military camp. There was a massive explosion and we can still see the smoke,” one said.
Hamadoun Toure, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast, said in an email: “We launched an operation to neutralise heavy weapons that Gbagbo’s special forces have been using against the civilian population for the last three months. We destroyed them in four locations.”
The Special Representative to Ivory Coast, Choi Young-jin, explained that the UN troops could not force president Ghagbo to leave his presidential post, but that the UN peacekeepers would respond to attacks against civilians or staff of the United Nations.
“We can no longer condone their [Mr Gbagbo’s forces’] reckless and mindless attacks on civilians and the UN blue helmets [troops] with heavy weapons,” Young-jin told the BBC.