Frightened foreigners, many of them longtime residents of this country, piled into buses, boats and planes Saturday as a French-run evacuation widened, despite government promises to protect foreigners from a surge of violence.

As calm returned to the war-divided country, African leaders redoubled efforts to resolve a crisis they say threatens regional stability.

France, the country's former colonial power, and other countries have flown out nearly 4,000 foreign nationals since Wednesday, embassy officials said, in what they expect to be one of the largest evacuations from Africa in post-independence times.

Most of those leaving are French, but they also include hundreds of Americans, Britons, Dutch, Spaniards and Lebanese. Private companies have evacuated 470 of their employees from a country that was once an African economic success story.

President Laurent Gbagbo's office issued a statement late Friday urging foreigners to stay, saying the government was taking steps to assure their safety.

But after more than two years of intermittent civil war, many Westerners were skeptical of Gbagbo's assurances.

"I can still hear the crowd screaming," said Monique Philippe, who moved here 40 years ago with her Ivorian husband and has two children. "Many houses were looted and burned."

Philippe had taken refuge with scores of others at the luxury Golf Hotel, where French forces are gathering Westerners before transferring them in barges to a military base and flying them out of the country. Every day, she watches more friends leave, unsure whether to join them.

"It may be calmer now, but it is not over," Philippe said.

Busloads of Westerners continued to pull up at Abidjan's airport, under heavy French guard, to catch flights Saturday. But French military officials said about 200 foreigners under their protection had decided to stay.

Those opting to remain kept a low profile. Despite a semblance of normality in the largest city, Abidjan, few whites ventured from their homes.

In Paris, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Saturday that France had proof some of its citizens were raped during five days of rioting in Abidjan and other cities.

Hospital officials and the Associated Press have confirmed 27 deaths -- including nine French peacekeepers and an American aid worker killed in the government airstrike that unleashed the chaos Nov. 6 -- and more than 1,000 wounded.

No Westerners have been reported killed in the rioting.

Ivory Coast's government said 62 of its supporters were killed, many of them when French forces opened fire on anti-French demonstrations in Abidjan, the commercial capital. France maintains that its forces fired in self-defense and many of the casualties were caused by gunmen in the crowds.

The Nov. 6 airstrike by Ivorian warplanes came during three days of government bombardments on the rebel-held north that violated a cease-fire that was more than a year old.

France retaliated by wiping out the country's tiny air force, sparking an uprising by pro-government youths in the south who took to the streets armed with machetes, iron bars and clubs.

South Africa, which is mediating the crisis at the request of the African Union, hosted a third day of talks Saturday in Pretoria with leaders of Ivory Coast's political opposition, including former prime minister Alassane Ouattara.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore also flew in for talks with South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki ahead of a summit of African leaders in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Ivory Coast has accused Compaore of supporting the insurgents. Burkina Faso in turn accuses Ivory Coast of fomenting an attempted coup against Compaore this year.

Foreigners travel by boat to Abidjan's airport to fly out of the country. Thousands have fled violence and unrest.