Heavy shooting erupts in key town in I.Coast’s west

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Heavy gunfire and explosions rang out from the strategic town of Duekoue in western Ivory Coast on Monday, residents said, but it was not clear who was involved in the shooting.

Duekoue has remained under the control of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo since a 2002-3 war but rebels who seized the north of the country have pushed toward the town as the country’s post-election crisis turns increasingly violent.

“The sound of the shooting is very loud,” said Amara Kone, the manager of a local cocoa cooperative in the town. “We don’t know what is happening as no one can go outside but we think that there are clashes.”

Philippe Deho, another resident, reported the explosion of heavy weapons but could not give any further details.

There was no immediate comment from either the army or the rebels, who have declared allegiance to Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo’s rival and the internationally-recognized president.

A Reuters reporter in the main city of Abidjan also reported shooting and heavy arms fire overnight, but it was not clear who was involved.

(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly, Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Heavy shooting erupts in key town in I.Coast’s west