PARIS - French helicopters attacked and destroyed two pickup trucks of armed assailants who tried to break into the French ambassador's residence in Ivory Coast, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said on Thursday.
The armed men were apparently from forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who is refusing to cede power to rival Alassana Ouattara, who the United Nations said won a Nov. 28 election. "Two armed pickups coming from the residence of the former president Gbagbo tried to penetrate the French residence while firing. They were destroyed ... in defense by Licorne helicopters," Longuet told the French Senate.
Earlier, armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard said French Licorne ("Unicorn") forces that back up UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast had also destroyed military vehicles belonging to Gbagbo's troops during a helicopter-borne mission overnight to rescue Japan's ambassador to the West African country.