Ivory Coast: gunfire erupts near presidency

Unidentified troops drive past in the city of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Friday, April 1, 2011.Heavy fighting raged Friday near Ivory Coast's presidential palace and mansion and the state TV broadcaster as armed forces loyal to the elected leader tried to install him to power and oust the country's strongman.

Unidentified troops drive past in the city of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Friday, April 1, 2011.Heavy fighting raged Friday near Ivory Coast's presidential palace and mansion and the state TV broadcaster as armed forces loyal to the elected leader tried to install him to power and oust the country's strongman. Photo by The Associated Press.

Gunfire erupted in Ivory Coast's main city Saturday morning just blocks from the presidential palace, as fighters loyal to the internationally recognized president sought to remove the incumbent who refuses to cede power.

An AP journalist heard gunfire and explosions Saturday morning about two city blocks from Laurent Gbagbo's presidential palace in Abidjan.

Rebels loyal to internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara made a lightning advance through the country this week, seizing the administrative capital on Wednesday before heading to Abidjan, the country's largest city.

The push has been led by a northern rebel group that is allied with Ouattara.

On Saturday, officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross said more than 800 people were killed in intercommunal violence in a western town that had been taken by the rebel group.

Red Cross spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said the violence likely erupted Tuesday, the day after the town was taken by the fighters. It is not clear what prompted the killings and whether the armed group was involved.

Krimitsas said Red Cross teams were there Friday and saw a "huge number of bodies."

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