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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 December, 2004, 10:27 GMT
France admits Ivory Coast deaths
Anti-French protesters in Ivory Coast
Anti-French feelings have been running high in Ivory Coast
France has acknowledged that its troops in Ivory Coast killed about 20 people in early November during clashes with supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo.

A French defence ministry spokesman said the victims included both civilians and Ivorian soldiers.

The Ivory Coast government has put the number of Ivorians killed at 60 and condemned the French actions.

The deaths came during protests after France destroyed the Ivorian air force following attacks on its peacekeepers.

Nine French peacekeepers were killed as the loyalist army attacked rebel positions, breaking an 18-month ceasefire.

'Restrained force'

Defence ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau said that French troops had acted in self-defence in the clashes, in which some 80 French troops had been injured.

Map of Ivory Coast
The Ivorian police accused the French troops of firing without giving any warning at a crowd of protesters near a hotel in Abidjan; the French say they gave warning shots.

"There were phases of clashes that were extremely difficult and during which we maintain that our soldiers used force in a very moderate, very restrained way," Mr Bureau said.

Following anti-French protests, some 9,000 westerners were evacuated.

Former colonial power France has some 5,000 troops in Ivory Coast, along with 6,000 United Nations peacekeepers, monitoring a buffer zone between the rebel-held north and the loyalist south.




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