More fighting has been reported from the West African state of Ivory Coast with thousands of people fleeing across the border to Liberia. The country has been in political turmoil ever since outgoing President Laurant Gbagbo refused to recognise his electoral defeat in the presidential poll held on November 28. Mr. Gbagbo's rival Allassane Ouattara has been recognised as the President by the United Nations but the former leader has refused to relinquish power plunging the country into violence and uncertainty.

Last week, troops supporting Mr. Gbagbo fired upon a demonstration by unarmed women killing six and injuring several. Mr. Ouattara loyalists say that over the week end supporters of Mr. Gbagbo with the help of armed police, pillaged, looted and burnt houses belonging to Ministers from Mr. Ouattara's parallel Cabinet.

Analysts say Ivory Coast's political crisis following the disputed presidential election could spill over into full-blown civil war — nearly 400 people have been killed since the November 28 vote, according to the U.N. and Associated Press.

The U.N. refugee body says more than 200,000 people have fled fighting in the main city of Abidjan in the last week, and more than 70,000 have crossed the border into Liberia to avoid fighting in the country's west.

“They're trying to install an atmosphere of terror,” said top Ouattara adviser Amadou Coulibaly. “But you can't do more than what they've already done — firing on unarmed women. They're getting desperate.”

The African Union appears deeply divided over the issue and has once more put off a decision on what action should be taken. However, both Mr. Ouattara and Mr. Gbagbo will be travelling to Addis Ababa to depose before the Union's Peace and Security Council on March 10.

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