Ivory Coast: 'Heavy Fighting' Near Gbagbo Residence

There has been heavy fighting in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, between forces loyal to the UN-recognised president, Alassane Ouattara, and supporters of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

Witnesses have reported hearing intense gunfire near Mr Gbagbo's residence, while Mr Ouattara's supporters say they have taken control of state television.

His government earlier closed Ivory Coast's borders and declared a curfew.

Mr Gbagbo has refused to relinquish the presidency since November's election.

But the national army has put up almost no resistance since Mr Ouattara's supporters launched an offensive on Monday.

Pro-Ouattara forces reportedly now control about 80% of the country.As the battle for control of the country appeared to reach a climax, gunfire was heard around several strategic buildings in Abidjan.Heavy fighting was reported close to the headquarters of RTI state TV and Mr Gbagbo's residence, both in the northern district of Cocody. ""The gunfire has been intense and they're shooting in four or five directions at a time. There's a lot of people,"" a resident told the AFP news agency. ""It looks like a final assault.""

A spokesman for Mr Ouattara's government, Patrick Achi, said the former president had so far shown no signs of giving up.

Mr Gbagbo has not been seen in public for weeks. His residence is mainly protected by members of the elite presidential guard, and is located on a peninsula in Abidjan's lagoon. Mr Achi also said Ouattara loyalists had taken control of RTI. This could not be confirmed, but the channel went off-air late on Thursday.

Earlier, Mr Ouattara's government said Ivory Coast's land, sea and air borders had been closed until further notice. It also declared that there would be a curfew from 2100 GMT to 0600 GMT in Abidjan until Sunday.
BBC