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U.N. beefing up Ivory Coast force

March 6, 2011 at 12:37 PM

UNITED NATIONS, March 6 (UPI) -- The United Nations said it would reinforce its peacekeeping force in the Ivory Coast by another 2,000 soldiers.

The United Nations has had about 9,000 personnel in the troubled African nation for about seven years; however, the political situation has deteriorated since the November elections when President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat.

CNN said Sunday the escalating violence between Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara warranted more blue helmets on the ground as well as the deployment of another three helicopter gunships to protect civilians.

"These helicopters will be used to promote peace and provide protection," said Hamadoun Toure, a spokesman for the U.N. mission.

The United Nations said about 365 people had been killed in the violence and thousands have fled their homes to stay out of the line of fire.

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