Forces loyal to Ivory Coast presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara on Wednesday stormed the residence of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo who has refused to cede power, a spokeswoman for Ouattara forces told Reuters.A negotiated end to the fighting has failed, and Gbagbo has refused to cede power, despite losing the November election to Ouattara.
"Yes they (Ouattara forces) are in the process of entering the residence to seize Gbagbo, they have not taken him yet, but they are in the process, they are in the building," Affousy Bamba told Reuters.
Residents around the presidential palace in Abidjan's Cocody neighborhood said they heard heavy gunfire and loud explosions coming from the direction of the palace.
"I have seen from my building the FRCI fighters (Ouattara forces) in pickups and 4x4 jeeps rushing toward Gbagbo's residence, weapons in their hands," Alfred Kouassi, who lives near Gbagbo's residence in Cocody, told Reuters.
"We can hear automatic gunfire and also the thuds of heavy weapons coming from the residence," he said.
Gbagbo representative Toussaint Alain, speaking to The Associated Press in a phone interview from Paris, said Gbagbo's residence was being bombarded by the French army, but the French military denied the claim.
France is intervening in Ivory Coast, and is backed by UN mandate so as to protect civilian populations.
Gbagbo is attempting to use French intervention as a means to rally support - noting French colonialism.