ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 25 (UPI) -- Estimates of about 400 deaths in post-election Ivory Coast violence may be low as more witnesses step forward to report bloodshed, rights groups said.
Opposition leader Alassane Ouattara won Ivory Coast's presidential election in November -- a vote verified by the United Nations and accepted internationally -- but Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office and a power struggle ensued.
Reports from witnesses and rights organizations said an already volatile situation disintegrated into horrific violence by the military, the opposition and militias.
One rebel leader aligned with Ouattara says he's prepared to launch a "surgical attack" to remove Gbagbo, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday from Abidjan.
"It won't be war. It won't take long. We know enough people on the Gbagbo side who are willing to fight with us. We are in contact with a lot of people Gbagbo thinks are his friends who are not his friends. They're just waiting for the day," Cisse Sindou said.
"I think Ouattara should give us the OK to take Gbagbo out," Sindou said. "We're waiting for the call."
Last week, shooting broke out near the U.N. peacekeepers' compound in Abidjan as the army tried to squelch a pro-Ouattara demonstration, the Times said. U.N. officials said they had a clear view of the army firing on unarmed demonstrators.
The same day in another Abidjan neighborhood, a mortar shell hit a market, killing 25 people. That act, the United Nations said, could be considered a crime against humanity.
Human Rights Watch said hundreds of other killings have occurred, mostly by pro-Gbagbo forces and militias, but many by anti-Gbagbo militias, too.