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HRW report details Ivory Coast atrocities

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 17 (UPI) -- Troops loyal to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo committed rape and murder, and carried out executions, a Human Rights Watch report indicated.

The persecution and killings of foreign nationals in the troubled African country were revealed in accounts taken by HRW monitors, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

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HRW said it documented the beating or burning to death of at least 14 West African immigrants in Ivory Coast. It said its report, released Wednesday, listed violence committed by both sides in the country's political confrontation.

Ivory Coast has been in turmoil since a disputed November election between Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara, recognized internationally as the winner.

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Human Rights Watch described the assaults as an organized pattern of xenophobic attacks, The Guardian reported Wednesday. The report said homes, shops and mosques of hundreds of West Africans were burned, and many people were driven from their neighborhoods under death threats by pro-Gbagbo fighters.

"Residents from Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Niger gave detailed accounts of daily attacks by pro-Gbagbo security forces and armed militias, who beat foreign residents to death with bricks, clubs, and sticks, or doused them with gas and burned them alive," the report said.

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The report also criticized gunmen claiming allegiance to Ouattara for summary executions of 11 pro-Gbagbo troops, The Guardian said.

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"The time is long overdue for the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions against Gbagbo and his allies directly implicated in the grave abuses of the post-election period," said Daniel Bekele, HRW's Africa director. "The international community should also send a clear message to Ouattara's camp that reprisal killings will place them next on the list."

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