Ouattara forces begin Abidjan assault

ABIDJAN - Forces backing Ivory Coast

presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara began a fresh assault to
remove Laurent Gbagbo from his last stronghold in Abidjan on

As the conflict escalated, France ordered more troops into

the West African country to protect civilians.

A convoy of several dozen vehicles containing heavily armed

pro-Ouattara troops and outfitted with mounted machine guns
entered Ivory Coast's main city at midday, the first elements of
a large force that had massed on the northern outskirts for what
they called a "final assault", according to a Reuters

Heavy machine gun fire and a few explosions could be heard

minutes after they entered the city limits.