Gunfire and explosions shook Ivory Coast's main city today, as supporters and security forces loyal to the two men claiming to be president clashed, killing up to 18 people amid fears the violence could push the country toward another civil war. Rebels loyal to Alassane Outtara exchanged fire with government troops outside the UN-protected hotel Outtara is attempting to govern from, while elsewhere riot police fired live rounds to disperse protest gatherings.
The bloodshed across Abidjan is part of a risky push to take control of state institutions by Ouattara, the widely recognized winner of an election that millions once hoped would reunite the West African nation. Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to concede, and continues to rule from the presidential palace. The city has ground to a halt, with businesses closed and residents cowering in their homes. (Read more Ivory Coast stories.)