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Defiant Ivory Coast Leader Denies Death Squad Links

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo defiantly denied any involvement in shadowy death squads on Saturday and promised to fight those undermining his rule as leader of the war-riven West African nation. Speaking at a rare news conference, Gbagbo responded to allegations that the faceless hitmen operating in government-controlled Abidjan were linked to authorities. “Ivory Coast is not governed by an assassin. I have never killed anyone. My wife has never killed anyone,” Gbagbo said. Gbagbo’s feisty speech, in which he denounced what he described as systematic attempts to sully his name, came as Ivory Coast waits for the formation of a new government of unity, including rebels. The death squads have emerged since rebels launched a failed coup last September and triggered a civil war which has divided the former French colony, killing thousands and forcing more than a million to flee their homes. A U.N. report published last month said the death squads appeared to be made up of people close to the government, the presidential guard and a militia from Gbagbo’s ethnic group. The rebels have also been accused of human rights abuses. Full Story

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