Ouattara forces begin Abidjan assault

ABIDJAN - Forces backing Ivory Coastpresidential claimant Alassane Ouattara began a fresh assault toremove Laurent Gbagbo from his last stronghold in Abidjan onMonday.

As the conflict escalated, France ordered more troops intothe West African country to protect civilians.

A convoy of several dozen vehicles containing heavily armedpro-Ouattara troops and outfitted with mounted machine gunsentered Ivory Coast's main city at midday, the first elements ofa large force that had massed on the northern outskirts for whatthey called a "final assault", according to a Reuterseyewitness.

Heavy machine gun fire and a few explosions could be heardminutes after they entered the city limits.

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