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Ouattara loyalists attack Ivory Coast broadcaster as violence drags on

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Tensions remain high in Ivory Coast
  • Broadcast antennae for state-run RTI attacked
  • Ouattara representative says Gbagbo loyalists are committing "human rights violations"
  • Mallet: Gbagbo loyalists are raping and killing supporters of Ouattara
  • Days of fighting have left Abidjan in an increasingly lawless situation

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN) -- The broadcast antennae for Ivory Coast's state news agency was targeted Saturday night by youths loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara, according to his representative to South Africa.

Patrice Mallet told CNN that Ouattara supporters attacked Radiodiffusion-Television-Ivoirienne (RTI), calling it a "tool" used by disputed President Laurent Gbagbo "to spread hate and xenophobia."

Mallet also accused Gbagbo's armed youth league, known as the Young Patriots, along with armed forces loyal to Gbagbo, of committing "gross human rights violations" over the past week and a half during fighting that has left the commercial capital, Abidjan, in an increasingly lawless situation.

People have been burned alive or gunned down in public because they are supporters of Ouattara, Mallet said. In November, both incumbent Gbagbo and challenger Ouattara claimed victory in the presidential election run-off. An independent electoral commission declared Ouattara the winner, but Gbagbo has refused to step aside.

Mallet said other rights abuses include using heavy artillery and rocket-launched grenades against protesters, the destruction of mosques, denial of medical care for Ouattara loyalists and the use of rape and sexual assault as a tactic. Gbagbo is also tracking down Ouattara backers on social networks and chat rooms, Mallet said.

The Young Patriots are run by Charles Ble Goude, Gbagbo's minister of youth. On Friday, he called on Gbagbo supporters to impede the movement of United Nations forces around the country "by any means."

There have also been clashes between Gbagbo and Ouattara supporters in the central cities, Yamoussoukro and Daoukro, in addition to ongoing fighting in Abidjan.

But Ouattara loyalists have secured the border with Liberia to keep mercenaries out of the country, Mallet said. They have intercepted several groups trying to bring weapons -- including rocket launchers -- into the country, according to Mallet.

Violence escalated sharply over the last week, after four African heads of state left Abidjan. They were given a mandate by the African Union to find a "binding solution" to the post-election crisis in Ivory Coast.

Ouattara is holed up in the Golf hotel in Abidjan under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers.

CNN's Christabelle Fombu contributed to this report