French troops clashed with soldiers and angry mobs Saturday after Ivorian warplanes killed at least nine French peacekeepers and an American civilian in an airstrike that threatened to draw foreign troops deeper into renewed fighting in the West African country.
French forces hit back, destroying what it said was the entire Ivory Coast air force: two Russian-made Sukhoi jets used in the bombing and five helicopter gunships. French President Jacques Chirac dispatched three Mirage fighter jets to Gabon and ordered the deployment of two military companies, about 300 troops, to Ivory Coast.
Mob violence erupted in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial capital, after the French retaliatory strike, as thousands of angry loyalists armed with machetes, axes and clubs poured into the streets in fiery rampages in search of French targets.
"French go home!" loyalist mobs shouted, as at least two French schools were set on fire and thousands tried to storm a French military base as French and Ivorian forces briefly traded gunfire.
"Everybody get your Frenchman!" young men screamed to each other, swinging machetes.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo would be "held personally responsible by the international community for the public order in Abidjan."
The U.N. Security Council, convened in an emergency session and demanded an immediate halt to all military action in Ivory Coast and emphasized that U.N. and French forces were authorized to use "all necessary means" to keep the peace.
France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, said he would draft a resolution to impose an arms embargo on Ivory Coast. French officials will also seek to impose U.N. sanctions against those blocking the peace process, violating human rights and preventing the disarmament of fighters, he said.
Hard-liners in Ivory Coast's military broke a year-long cease-fire, launching surprise airstrikes Thursday against rebel positions and vowing to retake the northern part of the country that has been under rebel control since a civil war broke out in 2002.
Government officials said the airstrike that hit a French peacekeeper position was an accident.
The violence, however, highlights the nationalist fervor in the pro-government south. Many there resent the presence of French troops, suspecting them of siding with rebels, even though the peacekeepers have protected government forces in the past. France has about 4,000 troops in Ivory Coast, and a separate U.N. peacekeeping force numbers around 6,000.
The bulk of the U.N. peacekeeping force includes thousands of West African troops; none of them were American.
The violence Saturday began when government warplanes struck French positions at Brobo, near the northern town of Bouake, Philippe Moreux, a U.N. military spokesman, said.
Eight French soldiers were killed and 30 were wounded, according to Jean-Francois Bureau, a French Defense Ministry spokesman in Paris. An unnamed American citizen also was killed in the raid, the French presidency said without elaborating. A ninth French soldier died later of his wounds.
Security Council diplomats said the American who was killed was believed to have worked for a nongovernmental organization.
In response to the strike, French infantry destroyed the government warplanes on the ground at an airport in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast's official capital, 75 miles to the south, Col. Henry Aussavy, a French military spokesman, said.
More explosions rocked the capital after dark, apparently as French helicopters swept in to destroy five helicopters. The French forces "realized the objective assigned to it of neutralizing the Ivorian aircrafts," the Defense Ministry said.
In Abidjan, French troops fired in the air and shot tear gas to hold back mobs trying to overrun the main French military base.
French and Ivorian troops traded gunfire on the tarmac of the international airport, as Ivorian troops tried to destroy French aircraft there in retaliation.
State television broadcast calls by loyalist leaders calling for a march on the French military base and other targets Sunday.
"We are at war. France attacked us," protesters said in one of many such broadcasts late Saturday.
Sebastien Dano Djeje, the Ivorian Cabinet member for national reconciliation, said the bombing of the French position in the north "was a mistake. We didn't aim to hit them."