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Pro-Ouattara troops mass for "final assault" in Ivory Coast

Emmanuel Braun / Reuters

Forces loyal to Ivorian presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara gather outside the capital Abidjan, April 3. Fighters loyal to Ivory Coast presidential rivals Laurent Gbagbo and Ouattara held onto positions around the main city Abidjan on Sunday, a day that saw less fighting than the previous three. Soldiers of Ivory Coast's rival leaders battled for the presidential palace, military bases and state TV in the main city Abidjan on Saturday, in a conflict becoming so brutal that it killed 800 people in one town alone. Advancing soldiers backing Alassane Ouattara, who U.N.-certified results show won a Nov. 28 presidential election, met stiff resistance from fighters remaining loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down.

Fighters backing democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara entered Abidjan by the truckload Monday afternoon as part of a final offensive to take the last piece of the West African country still largely controlled by Gbagbo.

Emmanuel Braun / Reuters

A fighter loyal to Ivorian presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara displays traditional hunters' charms as forces gather outside the capital Abidjan, April 3.

A convoy of several dozen vehicles containing heavily armed pro-Ouattara troops and outfitted with mounted machine guns entered Ivory Coast's main city at midday, the first elements of a large force that had massed on the northern outskirts for what they called a "final assault," according to a Reuters eyewitness.

Emmanuel Braun / Reuters

Forces loyal to Ivorian presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara prepare to head to the frontline in the capital Abidjan, April 2.

 Heavy machine gun fire and a few explosions could be heard minutes after they entered the city limits.  Read full story here.