Côte d'Ivoire: UN peacekeepers wounded in an ambush north of Abidjan

27 February 2011

Three United Nations peacekeepers in Côte d'Ivoire have been wounded in an ambush in a suburb of the country's commercial capital, Abidjan, the UN mission said today, condemning acts of violence against its troops on Friday and Saturday, during which four of its vehicles were also damaged.

The three soldiers of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) were wounded in an ambush carried out in the northern Abidjan suburb of Abobo by forces loyal Laurent Gbagbo, the outgoing president who refuses to leave office after he was defeated by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in a presidential election held last November.

The UN peacekeepers were on patrol under their civilian protection mandate when they were shot at in the PK-18 area. The patrol was forced to return fire, UNOCI said in a press release.

On Friday and Saturday elements of Mr. Gbagbo's “Young Patriots” damaged four UNOCI vehicles in Abidjan.

The UN peacekeeping force said the escalation of violence against the peacekeepers and their assets has been fuelled by propaganda, based on untruths against the mission by Mr. Gbagbo's camp.

“UNOCI wishes to recall that under international conventions, any attack against UN peacekeepers constitutes a war crime,” the mission said in its statement.

“UNOCI also wishes to recall that the Blue Helmets' rules of engagement allow them to use force to protect UN personnel and material as well as freedom of movement. These rules shall be applied strictly,” it added. It reiterates its call for calm and urged all parties concerned to avoid any recourse to violence.

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Côte d’Ivoire, deploring recent clashes between rival groups as well as threats against the United Nations, including a call to impede the movement of peacekeepers.