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UN Evacuates Staff Amid Intensifying Power Clash In Ivory Coast

The United Nations says it has evacuated 200 staff to the north of Ivory Coast in advance of what is expected to be a battle in the capital, Abidjan, between forces loyal to the two men who claim the presidency of that West African nation.

Forces loyal to Alassane Outtara, the internationally recognized winner of Ivory Coast's election in November, have taken control of most of the country and have now taken positions around Abidjan in a bid to forcefully remove Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president who has refused to surrender power.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeated calls for Gbagbo to step down immediately to prevent further bloodshed.

Aid agencies have reported the deaths of hundreds of people last week in violence the western town of Duekoue as the power struggle has intensified.

Supporters of both sides have been accused of carrying out massacres.

compiled from agency reports