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Page last updated at 08:53 GMT, Monday, 4 April 2011 09:53 UK

Ouattara spokesman denies Ivory Coast 'massacre'

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United Nations forces in western Ivory Coast are trying to protect tens of thousands of civilians who have taken refuge in a church in the town of Duekoue. About 800 people were killed there last week after fighting between militias loyal to the two men who claim the country's presidency, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara.

The BBC's Africa correspondent, Andrew Harding, who was one of the first journalists to arrive in the city, said he saw about 20 bodies by the roadside, with more being pulled from the undergrowth.

But forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised president, have dismissed talk of a massacre as nonsense.

Ouattara's spokesman, Konate Sidique, told Andrew Harding that 162 bodies had been discovered and called for an investigation into the deaths.

But he denied that Ouattara's troops were involved in the killings, saying: "Our forces cannot be employed in any kind of massacre."

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