Fighting Moves Into Major Ivory Coast City
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.
OFEIBEA QUIST: Heavy weapons' fire rang out downtown today, says Canadian journalist Marco Chown Oved.
MARCO CHOWN OVED: We're only steps from the presidential palace here. And there has been automatic gunfire, the booms of mortars that have been ringing out in the last few hours. We have tanks run by the Republican Guard, which is the most hardcore forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.
QUIST: The U.S., the French and U.N. chief have intensified their calls for Gbagbo to step down. Ban Ki-moon urged Gbagbo immediately to relinquish power to Ouattara, who has been confined to a lagoonside hotel since the disputed presidential vote, protected by U.N. peacekeepers and blockaded by Gbagbo loyalists. Ouattara spoke today.
ALASSANE OUATTARA: (Speaking foreign language).
QUIST: The U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnny Carson, said Gbagbo was weakening.
JOHNNY CARSON: There is a clear indication that the military forces of Gbagbo have, in fact, started to disintegrate. We hope that he will seize this opportunity to step aside peacefully, but that opportunity is slipping away.
QUIST: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Accra.
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