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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 November, 2004, 19:43 GMT
Troops move to end Ivorian riots
French armoured cars in Yamoussoukro
France has also sent troops to the capital, Yamoussoukro
France says the situation in Ivory Coast is "under control" after its forces fanned out across the main city, Abidjan, to end anti-French riots.

Troops in armoured cars took over road junctions and gunboats moved into position near bridges but Paris said it did not plan to evacuate its citizens.

Mobs went on the rampage after a day of bloodshed involving French forces sent to Ivory Coast as peacekeepers.

The UN has backed France's tough response to attacks on its soldiers.

French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in Paris that while the situation was under control as of Sunday, it remained tense.

We are all terrified and try to reassure each other
Anonymous Abidjan resident

The French virtually wiped out the small Ivorian air force on Saturday shortly after an air raid on the rebel-held north of the country killed nine of their troops and wounded 22, and further damaged peace agreements reached with the rebels in July of last year.

France, the former colonial power, has dispatched 600 more troops to back up the 4,000 soldiers it already has in Ivory Coast as part of a UN force of 10,000.

The UN Security Council has called on both the Ivorian government and rebels to refrain from further violence.

The African Union has appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki to try to find a solution to the crisis and he is expected to arrive in Ivory Coast shortly.

The Ivorian government has said it is also sending troops out to "contain the vandals and stop the damage".

Separately, the president's office announced that recent action against rebels in the north was over and the army ordered its soldiers to report to their units in Abidjan.

Community in fear

The French troops have moved at least 80 people to safer locations in Abidjan since supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo went on the rampage.

Paris has denied official charges that its forces killed at least 15 protesters in the riots.

IVORY COAST'S PEACE UNRAVELS
French gendarmes fire tear gas to disperse protesters in Abidjan.
29 Sept: Parliament fails to meet deadline for political reforms promised to rebels
15 Oct: Rebels ignore deadline for disarmament
28 Oct: Rebels withdraw ministers from unity government
4 Nov: Government aircraft begin daily air strikes on rebel-held territory in north
6 Nov: An air strike leaves nine French soldiers dead; France responds by destroying Ivorian planes

Thousands of people armed with machetes and clubs have been roaming the streets, setting up roadblocks of burning tyres.

French property in the Bietry and Cocody districts, including four schools and a library, were looted and the French-controlled airport came under attack.

A mob near the main French military base demanded to know if there were any French living in the district.

"It's better to burn them, like in Algeria," one rioter was quoted as shouting by The Associated Press.

"They burned the whites - that's why they're respected."

An unidentified French engineer living in Ivory Coast told France 2 TV by telephone that expatriates were staying in their homes, preparing to leave:

"We aren't moving, we can't move any more, we can't go out. There are no more supplies coming in. We're waiting.

"There's a very, very palpable climate of fear, which means nobody dares talk. Everyone is packing their bags but won't dare tell the neighbours."

'No hidden agenda'

Ivorian officials have been giving conflicting messages - some calling for a truce, others urging the French to leave Ivory Coast.

"Vietnam will be as nothing compared with what we are going to do here," said parliamentary speaker Mamadou Coulibaly.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier denied his country's growing intervention was aimed at destabilising Ivory Coast.

"In no way is France there to destabilise the Ivory Coast and its institutions or take sides. Its aim above all is to preserve constitutional legality."

The French minister added that there was "no hidden agenda".

Speaking on French LCI TV, he added that the government did not "anticipate an evacuation of [its] nationals from Ivory Coast at the moment".


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Scenes of destruction and looting amid tensions



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