Ivory Coast ‘president’ captured

Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was arrested Monday by French-backed forces of president-elect Alassane Ouattara, raising hopes for an imminent end to the strife that has wracked the West African country since Gbagbo refused to acknowledge his defeat in a November presidential election.

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Following an attack on Gbagbo’s residence in Abidjan, the country’s major city, by French forces earlier Monday, troops loyal to Ouattara went in and seized Gbagbo, according to U.N., French and Ivorian officials.

Gbagbo “has been arrested,” said Youssoufou Bamba, the U.N. envoy of president-elect Ouattara. “He is alive” and will be “brought to justice,” he said in a telephone interview.

Initial reports indicated that French troops had captured Gbagbo and turned him over to Ouattara’s forces. But Bamba subsequently told reporters that the arrest operation had been carried out by forces loyal to Ouattara.

“I am clear about that,” he told reporters outside the U.N. Security Council. “That’s the Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire who have conducted the operation. Gbagbo is arrested. He is under our custody. . . . Right now, he is being brought to a safe location for the next course of action.”

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