Ivory Coast's Gbagbo Taken into Custody

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Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president of the Ivory Coast, has surrendered after weeks of fighting between his troops and rebel forces.

Gbagbo was arrested Monday by forces loyal to the nation's internationally recognized leader, Alassane Ouattara.

With the help of rocket attacks by French and U.N. forces, rebel soldiers surrounded and captured Gbagbo at his presidential palace.

Ivory Coast U.N. Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba said he was pleased to make the announcement.

"Laurent Gbagbo has been arrested, is well and alive, and will be brought to justice," he said.

Hundreds of people have died in battles between Gbago's supporters and rebels loyal to Ouattara.

The United Nations and several other countries recognized Ouattara as the winner of the nation's elections last November. But Gbagbo claimed the vote was rigged and refused to step down.

Human rights groups accuse Gbabo's forces of atrocities against civilians.

Missions director Ted Jensen also told CBN News Senior International Correspondent Gary Lane that missionaries who served in the Ivory Coast have evidence of a massacre in northern cities -- likely carried out by the rebels.

For more insight on what's going on inside the Ivory Coast and how to pray for the people there, check out Gary Lane's blog, "Gbagbo's Last Stand."

From all appearances, it appears to be the rebel troops who are moving through because Gbagbo's people really have no reason to massacre anybody in that area," Jensen explained. "Those are people who have been faithful supporters of the present regime."

Associated Press footage from the weekend showed rebel soldiers patrolling an area strewn with bodies of men believed to be soldiers loyal to Gbagbo.

Leaders in alliance with Ouattara say the national nightmare is over. But others are concerned that deep divisions remain, and tough times could continue for the people of the Ivory Coast.

"If it goes the way that most of the countries have in the past, we'll see a general tightening up and restrictions applied to the freedoms we've had in the past in spreading the gospel," Jensen added.

CBN's Gary Lane, who traveled to Ivory Coast earlier this year, noted that the country has been in a "cold civil war" for some time now.

"The North has been controlled by the rebels and the South by the federal government," Lane explained. "They had this election last November, and the government did not control the full part of the country - so how can you expect a fair election when half of the country is under rebel control?"

According to the U.N., more than 100 bodies were found last Friday, and some of the victims had been burned alive.

"All the incidents appear at least partly ethnically motivated," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

CBN News Chief International Correspondent recently interviewed Ted Jensen, a pastor who works with missionaries in the Ivory Coast.

Jensen talks about the atrocities and prospects for a more peaceful country in the days ahead, and how to pray for the people of the Ivory Coast.


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John Waage

John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.