Gbagbo facing further air strikes
Forces allied with Ivory Coast's internationally recognised president have said they plan to regroup and again attack the compound where Laurent Gbagbo remains holed up in an underground bunker refusing to surrender.
Air strikes have already destroyed his weapons depots, and fighters have encircled his home and stormed the gates.
But forces allied with Alassane Ouattara are fearful of killing Gbagbo, 65, and stoking the rage of his supporters. Some 46% of Ivorians voted for him in the November election that unleashed political chaos.
"He will not surrender," said Meite Sindou, a defence spokesman for Mr Ouattara, the man recognised worldwide as the democratically elected president. "We will have to take him."
Wednesday began with the boldest attempt yet to penetrate Gbagbo's inner sanctum as fighters loyal to Mr Ouattara made it as far as the gate of the presidential mansion he has occupied for the past decade.
They breached the property's perimeter only to be forced to retreat in the face of the heavy artillery unleashed by the ruler's inner circle of guards.
Mr Ouattara has pleaded with the international community for months to intervene and remove Gbagbo by force, arguing he would not leave any other way.
Despite losing the election, Gbagbo still controls the Ivorian army and has repeatedly used its arsenal of heavy artillery to attack areas of Abidjan where people voted for his opponent. Security forces are accused of opening fire with a mounted machine gun on a group of unarmed women and lobbing mortars into a market.
On Monday, United Nations attack helicopters acting on a UN Security Council resolution bombarded six arms depots in Abidjan - including a cache inside the presidential compound.
"Obviously they didn't get all of it," said a senior diplomat. "When they came after him, he pulled out more stuff. Remember, he had a long time to prepare for this."