Violence against U.N. workers in the Ivory Coast - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Violence against U.N. workers in the Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (CNN) -Supporters of Ivory Coast's self-declared president, Laurent Gbagbo, set fire to a number of United Nations vehicles today.

No casualties were reported but a doctor and an ambulance driver targeted in one of the attacks were injured.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the string of attacks and warned that those carrying them out would be held responsible.

A statement from his office on Thursday said forces allied with Gbagbo assaulted and burned U.N. vehicles.

The cocoa-producing West African nation was plunged into crisis after Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff, but the incumbent, Gbagbo, refused to leave office.

"Beginning this morning, there have been a total of six incidents involving such attacks in Abidjan where a UNOCI military vehicle was burned. A doctor and the driver of an ambulance targeted in one of the attacks were injured, the statement from Ban's office said. "The secretary -general strongly condemns these attacks, as well as the armed attack by regular FDS forces on a UNOCI convoy in Abobo yesterday."

The FDS is Gbagbo's security force and the UNOCI is the acronym for the U.N. Operation in Cote d'Ivoire, the French name for the country.

Meanwhile, a U.N. human rights official said "the humanitarian consequences of the violence" will get worse if the political dispute there is not resolved.

Since the election, 23,500 Ivoirians have fled to Liberia and 16,000 others are internally displaced.

"The current crisis in Cote d'Ivoire threatens the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of Ivoirians," Valeria Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator said.

"There are continuing allegations of serious human rights violations from around the country," Amos said. "The violence has already caused a ten-fold increase in internal displacement in the space of a few days, showing how quickly a political crisis can have grave humanitarian consequences."

International powers regard Ouattara as the president-elect and have been working on ways to get Gbagbo to step aside.

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