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UN Security Council extends Ivory Coast mission

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — The U.N. Security Council extended its peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast on Monday, hours after the United Nations’ top envoy in the West African country said armed men had been threatening staff in their homes.

Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat in last month’s election and his demand that peacekeepers leave have raised fears that U.N. personnel and other foreigners could be targeted in violence. Over the weekend, masked gunmen opened fire on the U.N. base there, though no one from the global body was harmed in the attack. Two military observers were wounded in another attack.

“Armed men have been coming to the personal houses of United Nations employees, asking them to leave and searching their houses under the pretext of looking for arms,” U.N. Special Representative Choi Young-jin said at a news conference in Abidjan.

A spokesman for Gbagbo in Paris on Monday said he doubted soldiers or those supporting Gbagbo would be involved in such tactics.

Gbagbo has ordered the U.N. peacekeeping force to leave Ivory Coast, claiming it is biased in favor of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. The U.N. and the international community recognize Ouattara as the victor of last month’s presidential runoff vote.

The U.N. has refused to leave, and the Security Council resolution adopted unanimously Monday extended the mandate of the 8,650-strong force until June 30, 2011.

“Members of the Security Council warn all stakeholders that they will be held accountable for attacks against civilians and peacekeepers and will be brought to justice in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law,” said a statement read at the end of the meeting by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the current council president.

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