Forces loyal to Ivory Coast’s incumbent president Alassane Ouattara attacked the home of defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan on Tuesday.
Officials say Mr. Gbagbo is believed to be inside the residence. The Associated Press quotes a senior diplomat as saying the incumbent president is inside a bunker there.
Mr. Ouattara’s ambassador to France told a French radio station Tuesday that Mr. Gbagbo was negotiating his surrender, but Gbagbo officials did not confirm that report.
Heavy fighting continued around the main city on Tuesday, including near the presidential palace, as pro-Ouattara forces keep intense pressure on Gbagbo supporters in a massive offensive to unseat him.
On Monday, the United Nations mission in Ivory Coast said U.N. helicopters fired on two Gbagbo army camps, the presidential palace and Mr. Gbagbo’s residence. France says its forces took part in the attack at the U.N.’s request.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the attacks were meant to prevent the use of heavy weapons against civilians and U.N. peacekeepers, and said the U.N. is not taking up arms against Mr. Gbagbo.
Gbagbo supporters say the U.N. and French attacks were illegal and amounted to an assassination attempt against the incumbent leader.
Mr. Gbagbo refused to give up power after Mr. Ouattara was named the winner of last November’s presidential election.
Hundreds of people have died in post-election fighting, including many civilians. The International Federation of the Red Cross says at least 800 people were killed in the western city of Duekoue, which pro-Ouattara fighters seized last week.
The U.N. says up to 1 million people have fled their homes since violence began in December. More than 100,000 have fled to neighboring Liberia, with smaller numbers going to Ghana.
Mr. Gbagbo has ruled Ivory Coast since 2000. voa