Violence in Côte d'Ivoire, where President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down after losing the November presidential election to former Prime Minister Alassance Ouattara, continues to escalate as Gbagbo deploys the military against protesters.
In recent weeks, protesters, many of them women, have stepped up organizing what witnesses refer to as peaceful marches against Gbagbo. Though past such marches were broken up by troops firing in the air, The New York Times reports that on March 3 troops shot into a crowd of women marching in Abobo, a suburb of former capital city Abidjan, killing at least six. The area is dominated by Ouattara supporters as well as an anti-Gbagbo force that locals call "the invisible commando."
While the women were unarmed, local news site Abidjan Net reports that Ouattara supporters were present, armed with AK-47s to protect the marchers. A video taken during the protest shows the women marching with signs. At the 3:40 mark, gun shots ring out and the women, panicked, attempt to disperse. The extremely graphic video also shows the bloodied bodies of at least four women killed by the shooting.
Casualties have risen sharply in recent days, with the U.N. verifying almost 400 deaths in the post electoral violence. The Wall Street Journal characterizes the latest deaths as pushing the West African nation closer to civil war.
In 2002, an attempted coup plunged Ivory Coast into civil war. While fighting subsided a couple years later, the country has remained divided into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south. Now it appears to be lapsing back into full-blown conflict. Mr. Gbagbo's forces have started using artillery and other heavy weaponry, prompting thousands to flee areas of Abidjan, the commercial capital.