Nearly 300 killed in Ivory Coast violence, UN says
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - At least 296 people have been killed in post-election violence in Ivory Coast since the middle of December, the United Nations mission said on Thursday.
Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara have been locked in a violent power struggle since a November 28 presidential election both claim to have won.
Electoral commission results certified by the U.N. showed Ouattara won the poll by an 8-point margin, and he has broad international recognition, but Gbagbo has refused to step down and retains control of the military.
Scores have been killed in clashes between Ouattara supporters and security forces, mostly in raids by pro-Gbagbo troops and allied militias on pro-Ouattara neighbourhoods. Many have also been kidnapped in those raids, the U.N. mission says.
A U.N. statement said 22 people had been killed in Abidjan in the past week.
"That brings the total number of people killed up to more than 296 deaths since mid-December," U.N. spokesman Hamadoun Toure said, adding that others had been kidnapped or raped.
Paramilitary forces loyal to Gbagbo killed at least six civilians in a pro-Ouattara area on Monday, witnesses said. And last weekend, Gbagbo held a service for the 32 soldiers and police killed since mid-December, when things turned violent.
Gbagbo's forces rarely comment on casualty figures and often shut down the scene of violence, barring access to the press or public while bodies are cleared out.
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