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Hundreds of women have marched to the spot in Ivory Coast‘s capital where soldiers shot dead seven unarmed female protesters last week in an attack that brought a wave of criticism from around the world.

Male relatives built a wall of burned-out cars to block the mouth of the road leading into Abidjan‘s suburb of Abobo.

Many of the organisers of the deadly demonstration stayed at home fearing reprisals by security forces. But hundreds of others took to the streets in defiance to express their disgust at the regime of strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

Gbagbo has refused to cede power even though the country’s election commission declared opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the winner of the November 28 vote.

Nearly 400 people have already been killed, most of them civilians who voted for Mr Ouattara.

But last Thursday’s violence against the all-women march prompted an international outcry.

More than 200,000 people have fled the suburb of Abobo, the local UN peacekeeping mission reported, after Gbagbo’s security forces entered the area and began shelling it with mortars.

Fighting also has broken out in western Ivory Coast, where rebels allied with Ouattara have seized control of a nearly 30-mile corridor along the country’s border with Liberia.

Hopes linger for a negotiated solution, even after a high-level African Union panel of five presidents extended its timeline for mediation by a month.

Previous attempts to mediate have fallen flat after Gbagbo rejected offers of amnesty, exile and teaching positions in the United States.

 

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