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French Tanks Deploy Amid Ivory Coast Protests - 2004-11-08


Dozens of French tanks have deployed in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan amid a third day of massive protests against the French military presence.

Thousands of people gathered Monday after Ivorian state radio called for a "human shield" around the home of President Laurent Gbagbo.

French troops fired into the air to disperse the crowd.

French military officials rejected claims they were planning a coup against President Gbagbo, and said the tank deployment was intended to secure a position at the Hotel Ivoire.

A major announcement on the situation is expected later today.

Sunday, Mr. Gbagbo called for an end to violence sparked last week by government bombing raids in rebel-held territory, which killed nine French peacekeepers and an American civilian.

About 4,000 French troops and 6,000 United Nations forces have been in Ivory Coast since late 2002 to monitor a cease-fire.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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