U.N. rights office urges Ouattara to rein in forces

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations human rights office called on Ivorian presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara on Friday to rein in his forces, citing what it said were unconfirmed reports they had abducted and mistreated civilians.

It also cited sporadic reports of pro-Gbagbo forces killing civilians and reminded both sides that they could be held criminally responsible before the International Criminal Court.

“We’ve had unconfirmed reports of quite serious human rights violations committed by the Forces Republicaines de Cote d’Ivoire, pro-Ouattara forces, particularly in the Guiglo and Daloa area in the west,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.

Asked for details, he replied: “Looting, extortion but more seriously matters such as abduction, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment of civilians, possibly other acts as well.”

Pro-Ouattara forces were battling loyalists of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo on Friday after attacking his Abidjan residence and seizing control of Ivory Coast’s state television, a Ouattara spokesman said in the commercial capital.

“There should be no revenge acts taking place. The forces should show restraint,” Colville said.

The U.N. human rights office also had alarming reports about behavior by the so-called pro-Ouattara “Invisible Commando” in Abidjan, he said, without giving details.

Two civilians were reported to have been burned alive by pro-Gbagbo militia in Gagnoa, and at least three were killed in the Abidjan neighborhood of Abobo, among other killings in recent days by his forces, Colville said.

Thousands of people have been killed or injured in the Ivory Coast’s post-election violence, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Giles Elgood)

U.N. rights office urges Ouattara to rein in forces