4 Mar 2011

Six women shot during Ivory Coast march

11:32 am on 4 March 2011

Security forces in Ivory Coast have shot dead at least six women marching in support of presidential contender Alassane Ouattara in the main city of Abidjan, witnesses say.

Mr Ouattara is recognised by the United Nations as the winner of November's election in the West African nation, but incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo has refused to concede power.

The shooting took place in Abobo, a pro-Ouattara stronghold that has been the scene of violent clashes for more than a week.

"Men in uniform drove up and started shooting randomly," Idrissa Diarrassouba, a resident in Abobo, told Reuters news agency, as reported by the BBC.

The women belonged to Mr Ouattara's political alliance, the RHDP.

Country has come to a standstill

The BBC's correspondent says the country has come to a standstill more than three months after the election.

International sanctions aimed at forcing Mr Gbagbo to hand over power have heavily reduced economic activity, while armed youths have set up roadblocks around the main cities.

On Wednesday, international radio stations, including the BBC, were taken off air without explanation.

Electricity and water were then cut off to northern Ivory Coast - a region traditionally opposed to Mr Gbagbo.

The government has blamed technical difficulties for the fault, saying it cannot import spare parts because of the European Union embargo on the country's ports.