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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mbeki Arrives in Ivory Coast as French Troops Face Mobs

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- South African President Thabo Mbeki flew to Ivory Coast on Tuesday to launch an African effort to rein in chaos here, amid four days of sudden mob and government confrontations with French troops that have wounded more than 600 and killed at least 20 others.

The mission comes with the UN Security Council, African Union, European Union and a West African leaders bloc all condemning President Laurent Gbagbo's government in the violence, which began when Ivory Coast warplanes killed nine French peacekeepers and a U.S aid worker in an airstrike on the rebel-held north.

France, Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler, wiped out the nation's air force on the tarmac in retaliation, sparking massive anti-French rampages by mobs in the fiercely nationalist south.

The violence has shut down cocoa exports in the world's largest producer, closing ports that ship more than 40 percent of the world's raw material for chocolate, cocoa traders said Tuesday. Turmoil erupted at the peak of Ivory Coast's main harvest, with overall production last year at 1.4 million tons.

In Abidjan on Tuesday, thousands of loyalists were maintaining a standoff outside a hotel commandeered by the French military.

Some of 1,300 French and other foreign civilians evacuated from their homes by the French military amid looting and burning stared out at the protesters from a protective ring of barbed wire around the hotel.

"We are not going to leave," one loyalist outside the French temporary base said, adding that protesters would take shifts to go home for meals. "If I get the French, I can eat them," he added.