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Masked men open fire on UN base in Ivory Coast

SHARE Masked men open fire on UN base in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Masked men in military uniforms opened fire on the United Nations base after following guards back from a patrol early Saturday, the U.N. mission said. No one at the U.N. was harmed in the shooting, which came two days after violent protests left up to 30 dead.

The six armed men in a civilian vehicle shot at the patrol as it entered the mission compound early Saturday and continued firing along the wall of the compound, the U.N. mission said. The U.N. guards returned fire, according to a statement released Saturday.

The United Nations certified results followed the disputed presidential election showing longtime opposition leader Alassane Ouattara won the vote. The U.N. has been providing protection at the Golf Hotel, where Ouattara has tried to govern.

As many as 30 people were killed during violent protests Thursday, when Ouattara called on his supporters to seize key state institutions that incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to let go of. Police and troops loyal to Gbagbo prevented Ouattara's supporters from marching on government buildings Friday.

International pressure is growing on Gbagbo to give up his claim to power in this West African nation that was once an economic hub because of its role as the world's top cocoa producer. A 2002-03 civil war split Ivory Coast in a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south, and many had hoped that the election would help reunite the country.

While the country officially reunited in a 2007 peace deal, Ouattara still draws his support from the northern half of the country where he was born while Gbagbo's power base is in the south.

Gbagbo claimed victory in the presidential election only after his allies threw out half a million ballots from Ouattara strongholds in the north, a move that infuriated residents there who have long felt they are treated as foreigners in their own country by southerners.

National identity remains at the heart of the divide. The question of who would even be allowed to vote in this long-awaited election took years to settle as officials tried to differentiate between Ivorians with roots in neighboring countries and foreigners.

Ouattara had himself been prevented from running in previous elections after accusations that he was not Ivorian, and that he was of Burkinabe origin.