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U.N. troops open fire in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, April 10 (UPI) -- U.N. troops who came under fire in Ivory Coast's embattled economic center of Abidjan returned fire and ended the barrage, U.N. officials said.

The incident Saturday came as forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who was defeated in presidential elections in November, tried to stave off attacks by President-elect Alassane Ouattara's forces advancing into the city, CNN reported.

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An unidentified U.N. spokesman told Britain's Sky News one U.N. soldier was injured in the exchange.

"This was not a fight, but a direct attack by Gbagbo's forces, who fired [rocket-propelled grenades] and mortar rounds, from positions near Gbagbo's residence," the spokesman said.

There was no report of injuries among Gbagbo loyalists, who denied opening fire on the hotel where Ouattara is being guarded by some 300 U.N. military personnel, Voice of America reported.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement Saturday denouncing Gbagbo and his followers for refusing to accept election results and pushing the country into bloody conflict.

"Gbagbo's continued attempt to force a result that he could not obtain at the ballot box reveals his callous disregard for the welfare of the Ivorian people, who will again suffer amid renewed heavy fighting in Abidjan," the statement said.

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