Ivory Coast capital falls to anti-Gbagbo rebels (UPDATES) (VIDEO)

Members of forces loyal to Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, hold their weapons on March 29, 2011 in Duekoue, in western Ivory Coast. Outtara's forces are near the capital Yamassoukrou in a vast offensive to seize control after a disputed election, as Laurent Gbagbo seeks to boost his army with thousands of new recruits in Abidjan.

Forces opposing the incumbent Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo entered the capital city on Wednesday, and were parading victoriously through the streets, according to reports.

A spokesman for Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of last November's presidential poll, confirmed on Wednesday that his forces had entered the city of Yamoussoukro but told The Associated Press news agency that pockets of resistance still existed.

Earlier Wednesday, following a successful offensive by Ouattara sympathisers, including the capture of two more towns, Gbagbo called for a cease-fire and mediation in the Ivory Coast.

Fighting in Ivory Coast has intensified, with fighters loyal to Ouattara reportedly entering at least two new towns Wednesday after seizing several cities the day before from forces loyal to Gbagbo and moving closer to the official capital of Yamoussoukro.

The Associated Press quoted Ouattara's defense spokesman as saying fighters had taken control of the central towns of Bouafle and Sinfra. Witnesses also reported gunfire in Tiebissou, 30 miles from Yamoussoukro.

A spokesman for Gbagbo, meanwhile, called for a cease-fire and mediation. Don Mello told Radio France Internationale that the army had adopted a strategy of tactical withdrawal, though he that Gbagbo's forces could use their "legitimate right of defense."

Ouattara is the internationally recognized winner of the presidential election last November, but Gbagbo has refused to relinquish power and continues to control Ivory Coast's largest city and financial capital, Abidjan.

 

— Freya Petersen