JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Government warplanes attacked French troops in rebel-held northern Ivory Coast yesterday, killing nine of them and an American relief worker, and sparking a dangerous escalation of violence in the West African country.
The French, former colonial rulers who are helping enforce a 2003 truce that ended a civil war in Ivory Coast, struck back by attacking government aircraft on the ground.
Enraged mobs roamed the streets of Abidjan, the country's main city, searching for French civilians.
French schools in Abidjan and the capital, Yamoussoukro, were burned. Some civilians had to be evacuated by helicopter.
Protesters armed with machetes, axes and other weapons also tried to storm a French military base. French forces fired shots in the air and tear gas to control the mob.
"French go home!" loyalist mobs shouted, as thousands set fire to at least two French schools and tried to storm the base.
"Everybody get your Frenchman!" young men screamed to each other, swinging machetes.
French President Jacques Chirac ordered more soldiers and warplanes to the area, and in New York, the U.N. Security Council demanded an immediate end to all military action.
It said that peacekeepers - 4,000 French troops and a separate international force of about 6,000 - were authorized to use "all necessary means" to carry out their mandate.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said he will draft a resolution to impose an arms embargo on Ivory Coast.
Paris also will 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 more than year-old cease-fire, launching surprise airstrikes Thursday against rebel positions and vowing to retake the northern part of the country held by rebels since the civil war began in 2002.
As night fell, there were reports of heavy explosions in the capital city, where both French and Ivorian soldiers are based.
At least three French families called French authorities to say loyalist militias had stormed their homes, a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
There was no immediate word on any civilian casualties.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, was the pride of France's former colonial empire for prosperous decades after independence in 1960.
A downturn in commodities prices and political change in the 1990s encouraged instability, and the country suffered its first-ever military coup in 1999.
Turmoil and regional, ethnic and political hatreds have reigned since. Civil war erupted in September 2002. A power-sharing deal brokered by the French ended major fighting in 2003 but otherwise failed to take hold.
The two sides began sliding back toward war after they missed an Oct. 15 deadline to disarm. The rebels, known as the New Forces, withdrew from a government of national unity last week.
Government forces have attacked rebel forces in northern Ivory Coast in the past three days, breaking a cease-fire signed in May last year, and vowing to retake the northern part of the country.
The African Union strongly condemned the attacks. The United Nations estimated that 22 people were killed on Friday, including 20 civilians.
France is unpopular, particularly among government supporters, for its role in pressing the government to sign the truce and for its current peacekeeping role.
The attack that killed the French peacekeepers occurred near Bouake in central Ivory Coast.
French officials said about 20 soldiers who had been wounded in the air attack had been evacuated.
The dead American was not immediately identified. The U.S. Embassy warned American citizens throughout the country to stay indoors.
Chirac ordered two extra companies, 300 troops, to reinforce the French contingent on the ground. Three French Mirage warplanes based in Chad were ordered to Gabon, closer to Ivory Coast.
French troops also clashed with government forces at the Abidjan airport after Ivory Coast forces reportedly tried to attack French aircraft.
As mobs rampaged, Ivory Coast's government was alternately conciliatory and challenging.
Desire Tagro, a spokesman for President Laurent Gbagbo, said on state television: "The president asks all Ivorians to remain calm. ... French and foreigners settled in Ivory Coast are not responsible for the Ivorian crisis. We mustn't bring the war here."
State TV also aired loyalist leaders calling for a march on the French military base and other targets today.
"We are at war. France attacked us," unidentified people said in one of many such broadcasts late yesterday.
A senior member of Ivory Coast's government - Sebastien Dano Djeje, 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."
Djeje added, however: "But what proves it was Ivorian planes? We have to do an investigation."
The French air attack destroyed two Sukhoi 25 warplanes and an MI 24 helicopter on the ground at Yamoussoukro.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie warned that the French government held Gbagbo personally responsible for maintaining order in his country.
Foreign Minister Michel Barnier demanded firm action from Gbagbo, saying that he should "clearly assume his responsibilities and the role that is his to return the country to calm, especially in Abidjan."
"We must immediately return to the path of peace," he said.
The aid group Doctors Without Borders pulled out some staff in the west of the country yesterday.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.