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Rapes and abuses committed by both sides in Côte d'Ivoire crisis, says Amnesty International

media A protester stands near burning tyres at a road block in Abobo, Abidjan Reuters/Luc Gnago

Human rights group Amnesty International said that Côte d'Ivoire became a "human rights black hole" after the disputed November 2009 presidential elections, with both sides carrying out rapes and abuse. A four-week investigation in-country revealed that attacks were carried out based on ethnicity and alleged political affiliations.

"Both the security forces and the Forces Nouvelles are committing these horrific acts and their vicitms have no recorse to justice. This reign of terror must end," said Amnesty researcher Gaetan Mootoo in a statement.

The crisis began after Laurent Gbagbo, in power since 2002, refused to step down after his rival, Alassane Ouattara, was recognised internationally to have won the presidential vote.

Amnesty interviewed women who were gang-raped in front of their families and on the way to the market, while witnesses say people were beaten and killed in the street.

"The eyes of the world may have shifted from the political stalemate in Côte d'Ivoire, but the abuses are clearly continuing," said Mootoo.

The United Nations estimates that at least 300 people have died in post-electoral violence since mid-December.

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