The Ivory Coast government of President Laurent Gbagbo launched air strikes against rebel positions in the northern part of the country on November 4th. Nine members of a French peacekeeping force and one U.S. civilian were killed in the air strikes. According to news reports, many civilians in Ivory Coast have also been killed or wounded in mob violence. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that President Gbagdo is responsible for restoring order:
"Our ambassador, Ambassador [Aubrey] Hooks, has spoken several times to President Gbagbo making clear that President Gbagbo needs to stop all military activities, control street violence, and speak publicly on the need for his supporters to remain peaceful and law-abiding."
The rebels call themselves the New Forces. They have been in control of northern regions of the Ivory Coast since a failed coup in 2002.
More than six-thousand United Nations peacekeepers, along with four-thousand French soldiers, are in Ivory Coast. Kofi Annan, the U-N Secretary General, is urging both the government and rebel forces to cease hostilities and abide by the agreement known as the Linas-Marcoussis peace accords, signed in 2003.
Under the agreement, the rebels were required to disarm by October 15th, but they have refused to do so. The rebels say the government has failed to implement reforms mandated by the peace accords that are designed to give equal rights to northerners.
So far, says State Department spokesman Boucher "political leaders on all sides have failed to put the welfare of the people of Cote d'Ivoire [Ivory Coast] above narrow political interests." Those who seek to resume the war, he says, will be held accountable.