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Gbagbo held by poll winner's forces

Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo has been captured by opponents after months of fighting and hundreds of deaths caused by his refusal to step down.

Troops loyal to the country's internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara cornered him in his bunker after French tanks had helped them fight their way in.

Mr Ouattara's aides immediately promised that Gbabgo would not be harmed but would face trial for "crimes against humanity".

The arrest came after days of heavy fighting during which French and UN helicopters fired rockets at his presidential residence.

One soldier said: "We attacked and forced in a part of the bunker. He was there with his wife and his son. He wasn't hurt, but he was tired and his cheek was swollen from where a soldier had slapped him."

Gbagbo was taken to the Golf Hotel, where Mr Ouattara has been trying to run his presidency since winning the November 28 election.

Officials want him to sign a document that formally hands power over to Mr Ouattara

Youssoufou Bamba, who was appointed UN ambassador by Mr Ouattara, said Gbagbo will face justice. He predicted that fighting that has racked the former French colony will stop as soon as all of the pro-Gbagbo forces learn of his capture.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the arrest ended months of unnecessary conflict and he pledged UN support to the new government.

It will be very difficult for Ivory Coast to mount a domestic court to try Gbagbo, said Richard Downie, an Africa expert at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, adding that it would "probably be a lightning rod for more unrest".


From Belfast Telegraph