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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 14:50 GMT
Ivory Coast calm after mob riots
Pro-government protestors in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
At least 1,000 people were injured as anti-French riots swept Abidjan
Following five days of turbulence, Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan is returning to normal after a government call for people to return to work.

Huge anti-French demonstrations have prompted European nationals to flee.

UK troops have deployed to neighbouring Ghana to help with the evacuation of some 400 British civilians. France has already begun airlifting its citizens.

War resumed and riots erupted after France destroyed the Ivorian air force, in retaliation for peacekeeper deaths.

South African-brokered peace talks are due to begin later on Thursday.

The United Nations Security Council postponed discussion on the crisis to allow South African President Thabo Mbeki to hold talks with recently arrived Ivorian opposition leaders.

A South African government spokesman confirmed the talks will take place in South Africa even if President Mbeki flies to attend the funeral of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Reuters reports.

The chairman of the African Union, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, says he will convene an emergency summit of West African leaders to consider the crisis.

Mass exodus

The BBC's James Copnall in Abidjan says taxis are cruising through the streets and cleaners are attempting to tidy up the dishevelled city.

Ceremony for French peacekeepers killed in Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast is not at war with France and gave no order to kill these French troops
President Laurent Gbagbo
Ivorian gendarmes are guarding supermarkets in the troubled neighbourhood of Cocody, following days of looting, our correspondent says.

International agencies have issued humanitarian warnings about the consequences of the conflict on the rest of the country - especially in the rebel-controlled north.

"A million and a half people in northern and western Ivory Coast have been without power for a week," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.

The organisation said the disruption of water supplies meant an increased risk of disease.

"If this insecurity continues, we risk losing two years of steady progress made by the national reconciliation government, most importantly in terms of getting schools and health care services open again in the north," Unicef 's Rima Salah said.

The UNHCR says 5,000 Ivorians have fled to Liberia. It says it is concerned that more will follow, which could possibly destabilise Liberia's fragile peace.

'Occupying force'

The Red Cross estimates that during five days of anti-French demonstrations at least 1,000 people have been injured in Abidjan and Ivorian television said 64 had died.

PEACE UNRAVELS
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
7 Nov: Thousands of Gbagbo supporters demonstrate against the French in Abidjan; UN condemns Ivorian attacks
8,9 Nov: Anti-French rioting in Abidjan
10 Nov: French begin evacuating civilians

The Ivorian armed forces have accused the French peacekeepers in the country of acting like an occupying force following their destruction of the small Ivorian armed force on Saturday.

An attack on helicopters in the presidential palace in the capital city, Yamoussoukro caused offence to a symbol of the nation, army spokesman Colonel Jules Yao Yao said on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, President Laurent Gbagbo said he deplored the fact that the French had retaliated for the killing of a US peacekeeper and nine French soldiers without knowing the facts, AFP reports.

"Ivory Coast is not at war with France and gave no order to kill these French troops," he said.

Three ministers appealed on Wednesday for Ivorians to return to work as the unrest is damaging for the economy, our correspondent says.

The country is the world's leading cocoa exporter, but the port has been closed since Monday.




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