Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general said he was “concerned and alarmed” about the reports from the Ivory Coast town of Duekoue. He urged the country’s internationally backed president Alassane Ouattara to investigate several hundreds of deaths because part of them are blamed on his supporters.
But Mr Ouattara answered that his followers were not involved, and added that he had ordered an investigation into the killings. He also said he would welcome an international inquiry, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
The violence happened last week in Duekoue. Mr Ouattara’s fighters moved south in order to drive Mr Gbagbo’s troops away from large swathes of Ivory Coast.
A month ago the United Nations expressed worries regarding the situation in Ivory Coast.
On Saturday, the UN said more than 330 people had been killed, and while both sides said the other is responsible, the UN said most of the people found had been killed at the hands of Mr Ouattara’s forces when they took over the city. But the UN added that more than 100 people were killed by Mr Gbagbo’s troops.
“The secretary general expressed particular concern and alarm about reports that pro-Ouattara forces may have killed many civilians in the town of Duekoue in the west of the country,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
“The secretary general said those responsible should be held accountable.”
And the final death toll could be higher, UN officials are still investigating. According to Caritas aid agency’s estimation, 1,000 people may have died.
UN spokesman Hamadoun Toure told the BBC he had heard gunfire near the presidential palace, currently held by Mr Gbagbo. He also said that the situation was very tense.
After imposing a curfew on Abidjan, Mr Ouattara’s forces are reported to be planning a further advance towards the presidential palace.
UN troops secured the town’s airport on Friday and it is now under the control of French troops, which allows it to re-open.
People were called by the city’s pro-Gbagbo TV station to mobilise against what is described as a French “occupation”.
300 extra soldiers were sent to Ivory Coast by France, taking the total French force to about 1,400 men, said defence ministry spokesman Thierry Burkhard.
He told the BBC that the aim of the reinforcement was “to take control over the airport which was also done in co-ordination with the UN mission, to allow the re-opening of this airport to civilian airlines and military flights.”
Mr Burkhard also said that the force’s first mission is to protect French nationals, who may be threatened by looters.
“We are currently experiencing in Abidjan a security vacuum because the Ivorian security forces, which until now followed the orders of Mr Gbagbo, answered in great numbers the rallying call made by President Ouattara,” he explained.
French media report that about 1,600 foreigners are currently being sheltered in a French army camp – about 700 French nationals, 600 Lebanese citizens and 60 Europeans of different nationalities.
But Mr Burkhard said that there is no immediate plans to start evacuating these foreigners.