BREAKING NEWS: Ouattara forces seize presidential palace in Ivory Coast

AP , Tuesday 5 Apr 2011

Diplomatic sources says Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo in bunker after rival forces storm palace

Forces trying to install Ivory Coast's democratically elected leader seized the presidential home Tuesday and a senior diplomat said fighters were trying to coax the entrenched strongman out of a bunker.

The diplomat also said that Laurent Gbagbo's closest adviser and longtime friend had abandoned him, leaving the bunker to seek refuge inside the French ambassador's home.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Forces aiming to topple Gbagbo more than four months after he lost the presidential election had succeeded in taking nearly the entire countryside last week. But they faltered once they reached the country's largest city of Abidjan, where the presidential palace and residence are located.

On Monday, the United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters on Gbagbo's arsenal, as columns of foot soldiers allied with his challenger finally pierced the city limit.

Gbagbo adviser Alcide Djedje, who co-founded Gbagbo's political party and accompanied him to jail decades ago, sought refuge Tuesday at the French ambassador's residence, the senior diplomat confirmed. Djedje had been serving most recently as Gbagbo's foreign minister.

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