UN evacuates 200 Ivory Coast staff after attacks

The United Nations mission in Ivory Coast began evacuating some 200 employees after frequent attacks on its headquarters by forces loyal to the country`s strongman.

Last Updated: Apr 03, 2011, 19:05 PM IST

Abidjan: The United Nations mission in Ivory Coast began evacuating some 200 employees after frequent attacks on its headquarters by forces loyal to the country`s strongman.

A UN employee said they were told Sunday that they were leaving. They were taken by helicopter from the UN base downtown to the airport. Another helicopter will take them to the northern city of Bouake.

The person asked not to be named because employees are not authorized to speak to the press.

The evacuation order is for all "essential employees." Nonessential employees were already evacuated several months ago. The UN`s military personnel is still in Ivory Coast.

The French military force in Ivory Coast secured the airport early Saturday.

Earlier an adviser to Ivory Coast`s internationally recognized president says fighters are preparing for a final push to depose the entrenched incumbent.

The adviser said forces for Alassane Ouattara gathered outside the commercial capital of Abidjan late Saturday and planned to advance Sunday. He requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to journalists.

The scene was calm Sunday near Laurent Gbagbo`s presidential palace. On Saturday his government urged civilians to form a human shield around his office and home. Hundreds of young men gathered near the palace Sunday morning.

Fighters supporting Ouattara have taken nearly 80 percent of the Poland-sized nation in a bid to install him after Gbagbo refused to cede power.

Bureau Report