Sorrow, grief as fighting rages in Abidjan

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - Sorrow and grief were written on the faces of residents of the main Ivorian city of Abidjan on Friday as sounds of gunfire boomed throughout the day.

"We did not sleep at all (last night). There were deafening sounds of gunfire, it's really hard for us, pray for us and for Côte d'Ivoire," said a worried Cocody resident whose home is close to the national television station.

The national television and radio have since gone off air.

Abidjan's streets remained deserted on Friday as fighting continued  between the forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the man recognised by the international community as winner of the controversial 28 November, 2010 election.

"Today (Friday) Abidjan really is a ghost town. All businesses are closed, nobody has the courage to do anything at all. We are afraid to go out, we're scared to be hit by a stray bullet," said another resident of Yopougon, where gunfire has been heard since Thursday evening.

In a small Yopougon market, commodity prices have multiplied three or four times.

"Take it or leave it," said a woman selling fish.

"We do not know when this will end, so we came to stock-up for at least a week," said a lady.

From this market, one could hear heavy weapons fire in the neighbourhoods of Plateau and Treichville.

"God save us! We have done nothing to deserve this," cried some women, who came to shop and return home quickly.

The owners of a phone centre have increased the prices of recharge cards.

"We are in a crisis, our suppliers are not working so what we have available is expensive," a phone centre owner told a customer who complained about the hike in prices.

Ouattara's forces who this week began a final push to militarily end the four-month-old political stalemate entered Abidjan on Thursday.

Their main targets are the the national radio and television station, the residence of Gbagbo and presidential palace.
-0- PANA GB/AAS/IBA/CEA/MA 1April2011

01 april 2011 20:43:48

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