In Ivory Coast, forces backing the internationally-recognized President Alassane Ouattara have launched an all-out attack, claiming to have seized a major city.
The pro-Ouattara fighters have managed to take over the western town of Duekoue after fierce battles with troops loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.
In a country that has teetered for months on the brink of civil war, the latest push could open the way for troops loyal to Ouattara to march south to the strategic port of San Pedro, or east to the political capital of Yamoussoukro, AP reported.
The forces loyal to Ouattara have captured one city and are now moving into the western city of Dalao, the third largest city in the country, Capt. Leon Alla, Ouattara's defense spokesman said Monday.
But Gbagbo's adviser Toussaint Alain said from Paris that officials close to Gbagbo told him the city remained under army control and that the pro-Ouattara fighters were pushed back. He said at least 17 of them have been killed, a figure that could not be immediately confirmed.
In recent weeks, pro-Ouattara forces have seized five towns in the country's west.
Meanwhile, officials say around 2,000 people in the north have crossed into Mali in recent days to escape the violence.
A United Nations report says that up to one million people have so far fled their homes and 460 have been killed in the post-election unrest.
Violence broke out in the African nation last year after Gbagbo refused to hand over power to Ouattara who won the November presidential election.