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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 16:07 GMT
Fear roams the streets of Abidjan
Anti-UN protesters in Abidjan
The tension in Ivory Coast is having a direct impact on residents of the country's commercial capital, Abidjan.

A businessman told the BBC News website that a mob attacked his apartment block on Monday.

The group of around 150 people was targeting several UN civilian staff living in the complex.

They broke into an underground car park and wrecked two UN cars, but didn't enter the building itself.

"They wrenched the car park gate off its hinges and trashed two vehicles with UN markings on them," said the man, who preferred to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

"They moved them outside and continued to vandalize them."

Death threat

By Thursday morning, the situation was calmer although small groups of anti-UN protesters continued to pass the building, located in the city's upmarket Plateau district, at regular intervals.

"I was drinking coffee on my balcony this morning and some of them shouted up 'We are going to kill you!'" said the businessman.

"If you are white they think you are with the UN."

The man said he was too afraid to leave the building, apart from brief trips to bring food to the police officers sometimes stationed outside.

A refugee from neighbouring Liberia who has spent 14 years in Abidjan said his family had been trapped at home without food since Monday because of the unrest.

"Our children are crying and we have no choice but to accept the situation as it is because we are refugees," the man wrote in an e-mail to the BBC.

He said that since the civil war broke out in 2002, Ivorians had grown hostile towards Liberians living in their country.

"We are treated here like animals," he wrote.

Angry youths

But not all Abidjan residents feel unease at the current situation.

One Ivorian man told the BBC News website that he was happy to attend a pro-government demonstration outside the French Embassy on Thursday.

"The youth are angry with the position taken by the UN and the international mediators," said the 26-year-old student, who asked not to be identified by name.

He said many Ivorians were particularly suspicious of French involvement in the crisis.

France is the former colonial power in Ivory Coast and maintains important business links with the African nation.

"The problem is due to French economic interests," he said.

But he added: "Our president refuses to give in to them."

The man described himself as a "Young Patriot", the label given to supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo who control most of the streets in Abidjan.






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