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Ouattara supporter killed in Abidjan

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Laurent Gbagbo pressured to step down
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 63 people have been detained, 8 injured, 7 of them police, the Interior Ministry says
  • Gbagbo promised to recall troops from hotel, but they remained there late in the day
  • Alassane Ouattara has demanded a siege on his hotel be lifted as a condition for talks

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN) -- The government of self-proclaimed President Laurent Gbagbo anounced Tuesday that a supporter of Alassane Ouattara was killed during a pre-dawn raid in Abidjan.

The raid took place around 5 a.m. in the Cocody neighborhood at the party headquarters of a key member of the pro-Ouattara political coalition that backed him for the runoff, the government said on national television.

"Sixty-three persons have been detained, eight injured, including seven police officers," said an Interior Ministry spokesman.

"The supporter died of his wounds... he was armed with a knife and had tried to attack police officers and gendarmes," added the spokesman, who identified the victim as a northern tribesman.

Police seized machetes, knives, daggers and traditional protection amulets associated with armed rebels, the spokesman said.

The raid took place after police received complaints about attacks against local residents carried out by the occupants of the building, said the spokesman.

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Residents interviewed on the scene after the raid reported that supporters of Ouattara had been camping in the bulding since the November 28 election runoff, which international observers say was won by Ouattara.

The residents said the group had been involved in violence in the neighborhood, including robbing a bakery and clashing with pro-Gbabgo students from a nearby campus.

Two U.N. vehicles appeared on the scene following the raid, but were ordered to leave by police forces loyal to Gbagbo.

In the afternoon, the building was guarded by police officers who said no more supporters remained inside.

The incident came on the same day that talks between Ivory Coast's political rivals and African mediators failed to break the political impasse that has left Gbagbo clinging to power, despite international pressure for him to step down.

President-elect Ouattara has said he will not meet with Gbagbo until Gbagbo acknowledges electoral defeat.

"Ouattara has always been clear on this issue since the beginning," said Patrick Achi, Ouattara's spokesman.

However, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the envoy for the African Union, urged patience in resolving the crisis through negotiations.

"Military action will cost lives and we want to avoid that," Odinga told CNN.

The Kenyan leader, who visited Abidjan on Monday along with a delegation representing West African states, said Gbagbo agreed to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis without conditions.

But Ouattara will not negotiate until he is recognized as the legitimate president and Gbagbo lifts a siege on the waterfront Golf Hotel, where Ouattara has been holed up since the runoff, Odinga said.

Gbagbo, who has given no sign that he is retreating from his claim to the presidency, told the African leaders he would pull back his military by noon Tuesday, but Ivorian forces remained at the hotel in the evening.

"The (African Union's) position is that Ouattara is the president," Odinga said. "The option that Laurent Gbagbo has is to negotiate a decent exit with guarantees."

African leaders have urged Ouattara to ensure that Gbagbo and his supporters will not be persecuted if he steps down.

ECOWAS has threatened to use "legitimate force" to remove Gbagbo and called a two-day meeting of its defense chiefs January 17 to plan steps if he has failed to step down by then.

Gbagbo has said he wants an an international committee to recount the vote.

Odinga said Tuesday that a recount was no longer possible because the election documents have been in the custody of Gbagbo's supporters who could have tampered with them.

CNN's Zain Verjee and Salma Abdelaziz and Journalist Eric Agnero contributed to this report.