Ivorians flee impending violence

March 22, 2011 at 4:13 PM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 22 (UPI) -- Masses of people were fleeing Abidjan in the Ivory Coast after an escalation of violence, the United Nations reported Tuesday.

Abidjan is the country's commercial capital, but residents were hurrying to find transport out of the city amid fears of an all-out civil war, the U.N. report said.

The report said up to 30 unarmed civilians were killed and 60 others were wounded when a market in a northern suburb was attacked with mortars.

The bombardment was carried out by members of the Ivorian military. Those forces are loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo, who lost a U.N. certified election in November to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo has refused to step down.

The suburb where the attack took place, Abobo, is considered a Ouattara stronghold, the U.N. report said.

Some of those fleeing the city did so after an appeal Saturday by pro-Gbagbo youth leader Charles Ble Goude, who called for civilians to join the ranks of the armed forces.

The U.N. report said thousands of youths have responded.

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