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Ivory Coast: 7 UN peacekeepers killed in ambush

Seven UN peacekeepers have been killed in an ambush near Ivory Coast's border with Liberia, in what's said to be the first attack of its kind.

Ivory Coast peacekeepers killed 09 06 2012Enlarge
Seven UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush near Ivory Coast's border with Liberia. Here Ivory Coast militia look at masks in a burned-out village at Liberia's border with Ivory Coast on April 21, 2011. (Philippe Desmazes /AFP/Getty Images)

Seven United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in Ivory Coast and more than 40 remain in danger, the UN has said.

The peacekeepers, all from Niger, were ambushed by gunmen yesterday as they patrolled the southwest of Ivory Coast, near the border with Liberia, Agence France Presse reported.

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Eight civilians also died in the attack, which has sparked an "exodus" from the area, the BBC reported.

According to the UN's mission in Ivory Coast, UNOCI, extra peacekeepers were recently deployed in the region following threats of attacks on villagers. 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "saddened and outraged" by the ambush, which according to AFP was the deadliest attack on peacekeepers in Ivory Coast in years.

More than 40 peacekeepers remain in the area to protect villagers and are "still in danger," Ban told reporters in New York.

He called on the Ivory Coast's government to identify and hold accountable those responsible for what the UN describes as a "severe violation of international law."

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Ivory Coast's deputy defense minister, Paul Koffi Koffi, described the attackers as "militia men or mercenaries," according to the Associated Press. Government forces, working with Liberian and UN troops, will launch an operation within a week to find them, he said.

In the meantime the UN is sending reinforcements to back up its peacekeepers in the southwest, a spokesman told the AP.

More than a year after Ivory Coast's deadly post-election violence abated, the west African country remains unstable.

In a report published earlier this week, Human Rights Watch said that villages near the country's Liberian border were being raided by supporters of Gbagbo, who had fled to Liberia.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120609/ivory-coast-7-un-peacekeepers-killed-ambush