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8 French Soldiers Killed in Ivory Coast

November 6, 2004

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) _ Warplanes bombed French peacekeepers Saturday, killing eight French soldiers and wounding 23, and French forces responded by shooting down government aircraft, French and U.N. officials said, in a clash that threatened to escalate Ivory Coast’s renewed civil war.

The attack threatened to drag French and U.N. peacekeepers into the new fighting, which began Thursday when hard-line commanders in Ivory Coast’s military broke a more than year-old cease-fire and launched bombing strikes on rebel positions in the north.

At 1:30 p.m., the warplanes struck French positions at Brobo, near the rebel-held town of Bouake, U.N. military spokesman Philippe Moreux said. ``As a response, the French shot down two Sukhoi 25s and one MI-24 helicopter,″ Moreux said.

In Paris, a Defense Ministry spokesman said eight French soldiers were killed and 23 others wounded in the bombing raid and that two Sukhoi’s were shot down in response.

``Our forces responded in a situation of legitimate defense,″ said spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau. ``Now the priority is the immediate end of combat.″

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