WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- U.S. analysts said there are definitive signs that the conflict in Ivory Coast is a civil war though some Ivorian leaders dispute the characterization.
Fighting between rival camps in Ivory Coast has been ongoing since November presidential elections. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down despite international claims that Alassane Ouattara won the contest.
Richard Downie, a researcher on Africa at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the security situation in the country was quickly spiraling out of control.
"I would say we are in the early stages of a civil war again," he told CNN.
The November election was intended to unite a country divided in 2002 by civil conflict. Officials at the United Nations have issued repeated warnings that civil war was on the horizon and analysts at Chatham House and the International Crisis Group said it already broke out.
Downie said a renewed war could be "more violent and more bloody" because of the loyalties of the rival camps.
On Wednesday, forces loyal to Ouattara entered the capital Yamoussoukro after ongoing fighting with pro-Gbagbo groups.
Pascal Kokora, an adviser to the incumbent, told CNN concerns over the country were overblown.
"The premise of civil war is not true because this is not Ivorians killing Ivorians," he said.
The United Nations estimates around 1 million people have fled the commercial capital Abidjan and around 400 people were killed since the November election.