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IVORY COAST

Fear grips pro-Ouattara neighbourhood at night

The UN mission in Ivory Coast has called attention to nightly abductions of supporters of would-be president Alassane Ouattara. FRANCE 24's correspondents in Abidjan test the mood in a pro-Ouattara neighbourhood.

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Tension has been building steadily in Ivory Coast since a disputed Nov. 28 presidential run-off led to a stand-off between incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara. As world leaders put pressure on Gbagbo to relinquish the presidency, some of his supporters have reportedly applied heavy-handed methods in neighbourhoods that came out in favour of his rival in last month’s poll.

Life seemed to have returned to normal on Monday in one Ouattara stronghold of Abidjan, the country's largest city. Yet shopkeeper Ali (not his real name) only reluctantly ventured out to open his shop. “We can’t just stay at home, and keep the business shut, how are we going to eat? So I open the shop, but I’m dead scared. We just open the shop and we wait,” Ali said.

The shopkeeper said his neighbourhood had been placed under tight surveillance by Gbagbo’s security forces. Ali claimed armed men had been entering his and other pro-Ouattara areas at night to terrorize locals.

“The international community needs to back up their words with actions. I’m worried about my two children and my family. This is bad, very bad, they are going to kill us, those people are going to kill us,” a tearful Ali said.

The UN, which has been locked in a tug-of-war with the Gbagbo camp since it endorsed Ouattara as the legitimate winner, says it has received hundreds of reports of people being abducted from their homes at night by armed assailants in military uniforms.

Residents of pro-Ouattara neighbourhoods have organised nightly security rounds and raised barricades with whatever they can find, complaining that UN peacekeeping troops are nowhere to be seen.

“The guys against us have weapons, we don’t! They call us rebels, but they’re the real rebels!” said one man on watch.

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