African leaders urge end to I. Coast killing

March 6, 2011 - 0:0

NOUAKCHOTT (AFP) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added her voice to calls for an end to the violence in Ivory Coast, accusing strongman Laurent Gbagbo and his forces of a ""callous disregard"" for life.

She spoke soon after five African leaders mediating in the crisis called for an end to the killings and for Gbagbo's siege on Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized president, to be lifted.
Earlier Friday, aid agencies warned that the deteriorating situation in Ivory Coast was stopping refugee workers and medical staff from helping those worst hit by the crisis.
The ""United States strongly condemns"" attacks by Gbagbo's forces on his own people, Clinton said, including one Thursday on unarmed women demonstrators that left seven dead.
""Gbagbo and his forces have shown a callous disregard for human life and the rule of law, preying on the unarmed and the innocent. He should step aside immediately in the name of peace,"" she said.
""Gbagbo's selfish effort to cling to power despite losing the election has elevated tensions and eroded the fundamental rights of Ivorian civilians,"" the chief U.S. diplomat said. His forces have denied responsibility for the attacks.
Earlier Friday, Ouattara also condemned Gbagbo's forces for their ""unspeakable barbarism"" in the attack on the demonstrators during a demonstration in Abidjan.
The demonstration had been ""bloodily repressed, with disproportionate means, including combat tanks used by the militia and mercenaries in the pay of Monsieur Laurent Gbagbo,"" he said in a statement.