U.N.: Gbagbo blocking mass-graves probe

Jan. 2, 2011 at 4:22 PM
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- U.N. peacekeepers said Sunday Laurent Gbagbo's forces are keeping them from investigating suspected mass graves in the Ivory Coast.

The United Nations told the BBC about 200 people have been killed or have disappeared in the past month, mostly supporters of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized president-elect.

At least two mass graves have been reported, but when U.N. investigators tried to inspect one outside Abidjan, truckloads of gunmen forced them to leave, the BBC reported.

Again Saturday, Ouattara asked the International Criminal Court to send a mission to investigate the reports.

Almost 19,000 Ivorian refugees have entered Liberia, said Ranjan Poudyal, country director for Save the Children.

"We found whole families of up to 10 to 12 people sharing a room in public school buildings and churches," he said. " ... Liberian families hosting the refugees are concerned that there will soon not be enough food to go around. ... In the six villages where we carried out our assessment, we came across 39 children who had been separated from their parents."

Gbagbo's French lawyer, Jacques Verges, warned "neocolonialist" France Sunday, "If you attack Ivory Coast as you want to, it will be your grave," The Daily Telegraph reported.

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