ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — The United Nations said that it will do everything it can to locate areas where human rights abuses have allegedly occurred in Ivory Coast following disputed presidential elections.
Human rights groups have warned that security forces loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to cede power, have been abducting political opponents in recent weeks. The UN also believes up to 80 bodies may have been moved to a building nestled among shacks in a pro-Gbagbo neighborhood.
Investigators have tried to go there several times, and even made it as far as the building's front door before truckloads of men with guns showed up and forced them to leave. A second mass burial site is believed to be located near Gagnoa in the interior of the country, the UN said. Gbagbo's government has repeatedly denied the existence of mass graves.
The UN has said the volatile West African nation once divided in two faces a real risk of return to civil war, but a top ally of Alassane Ouattara, the man widely recognized as Ivory Coast's president, said this war has already begun.
"In any country that records more than 200 dead in five days, as the U.N. has certified, it's war. When a country experiences a massive population flight of the population — more than 20,000 Ivorians who leave their country to seek refuge in a country like Liberia — it's war," Ouattara's Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro, told The Associated Press.
The U.N. has confirmed at least 173 deaths.