Rebel fighters have withdrawn from territory they controlled in western Ivory Coast as French and West African troops advanced in a massive display of force that may herald the end of an eight-month civil war. Just three days ago, Fengolo village swarmed with young, menacing rebel fighters. Many were drugged up, with magic charms hanging round their necks, knives and axes in hand and assault rifles slung across bare shoulders. But that was before French and West African troops got the green light to enter the western war zone of Ivory Coast on Friday, rumbling through rebel and government territory in an impressive show of force to secure a ceasefire line. Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Seydou Diarra visited Fengolo on Monday in a symbolic step to ending a conflict that has split the country, killed thousands dead and driven more than one million from their homes. Rebels, army officers and the foreign troops met in the shade of a mango tree at a village further up the road to thrash out how to establish weapons-free zones on either side of the frontline, to build confidence and let civilians return. Full Story
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