UN chief demands answers but Ouattara insists forces only targeted those who took up arms

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

UNITED NATIONS, April 3, 2011 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon demanded that Ivory Coast’s internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara take action against followers who took part in a massacre of about 800 people, a UN spokesman said Sunday. Ouattara denied to Ban in a telephone conversation late Saturday that his followers were involved in events in the western town of Duekoue, according to spokesman Martin Nesirky. Ouattara said he had ordered an investigation. The international Red Cross and United Nations say about 800 people were killed in an operation by pro-Ouattara forces in the town last Tuesday as they took territory from Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo. “The secretary general expressed particular concern and alarm about reports that pro-Ouattara forces may have killed many civilians in the town of Duekoue in the west of the country. “The secretary general said those responsible should be held accountable,” according to Nesirky. “President Ouattara, while denying his forces were involved, said he had launched an investigation and would welcome an international inquiry into the matter,” he added.

The United Nations has already warned Gbagbo and his camp of a crimes against humanity investigation by the International Criminal Court into attacks on civilians since the country’s election in November. Ouattara was recognized as the winner but Gbagbo, the incumbent leader, refused to stand down.  The United Nations has about 11,000 peacekeepers in Ivory Coast and Ban has thrown a lot of political weight into the campaign to force Gbagbo to stand down.



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