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Ivory Coast Ex-President, Strongman Laurent Gbagbo Captured

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has been captured by local forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara, backed by French troops.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 4/11/2011, 8:47 PM / Last Update: 4/11/2011, 11:11 PM

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, 66, has been captured by local forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara, backed by French troops.

The week-long siege of Gbagbo's residence ended Monday, according to a statement by Youssoufou Bamba, Ouattara's representative to the United Nations.

“It is my pleasure to announce officially that the former president of Cote d'Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, has been arrested,” he said. “He is alive and he will be brought to justice to respond to the crimes he committed. In this way, the Cote d'Ivoire reaches the end of its tragedy, of its nightmare.”

Although French forces were not directly involved in the capture of the former president, according to officials in Paris, both French and United Nations helicopters had fired missiles at Gbagbo's forces just a day earlier.

The military campaign conducted in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan, said the Allied Forces, were necessary for the protection of civilians in the city, who were being attacked by their former president.

Since last year's election, Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat and his opponent's internationally-recognized victory. The former leader continued to insist that he remained the legitimate president of Cote d'Ivoire, enforcing his position with troops firing heavy weapons against the civilians of Abidjan, many of whom were loyal to Ouattara. 

Last week Gbagbo's forces also fired those weapons at the United Nations headquarters in the Sebroko Hotel and Ouattara's headquarters in the Golf Hôtel. The residence of the French ambassador was also attacked.

The staff of Israel's Embassy was evacuated last Friday by a U.N. force after having been holed up in the ambassador's residence for days.