BOUAKE, Ivory Coast (AP) – Ivory Coast warplanes bombed the largest city of the rebel-held north in wave after wave of attacks Thursday, breaking a more than year-old cease-fire in the civil war that split West Africa’s one-time economic powerhouse.

The government’s Russian-made Sukhoi jets attacked at dawn and swept back in for at least three more raids by nightfall, targeting rebel military and civilian headquarters and television in surprise attacks that left civilians cowering in their homes.

There was no official word on casualties but rebels said 25 civilians were injured. The relief group Medecins sans Frontieres, said the raids injured 39 people, 14 of them civilians. The organization, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said it believed there also had been deaths, but had no details.

Rebel leader Guillaume Soro, reached after the first attack, called the government offensive a “unilateral … flagrant violation” of Ivory Coast’s peace deals and complained about what he called the inaction of the peacekeepers.

The rebel chief headed back to Bouake from nearby Togo, where he had gone for regional consultations on the deteriorating situation in his home country. “We’ve just been bombed. The war has started again,” rebel military commander Cherif Ousmane said after the first raid jolted residents awake.

The United States condemned the renewed violence, saying that peace violators would face consequences.

“We are deeply disturbed that so far, political leaders on all sides have failed to put the welfare of the people … above narrow political interests,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. “Those parties that continue to undermine the peace process and seek to resume the war will be held accountable.”

The United Nations called the attacks a major violation of the cease-fire and suspended all humanitarian work in Ivory Coast, where it has been trying to promote peace. About 6,000 U.N. peacekeepers and 4,000 French troops patrol the lines that divide the nation in two. The U.N. Security Council said the raids were “grave” and “worrying,” after Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave the members a rare briefing on the violence.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, has been split since a September 2002 coup attempt launched the country into civil war. A 2003 peace deal, brokered under pressure from former colonial ruler France and others, ended major fighting. But a power-sharing deal failed to take hold, and distrust and ethnic, regional and political hatreds continue to run strong.

The civil war killed thousands and forced more than 1 million people from their homes. Renewed war would threaten stability in the entire region if it draws in arms and idled fighters from neighboring countries – Liberia and Sierra Leone – themselves recovering from 1990s civil wars.

Col. Henry Aussavy, a spokesman for French peacekeepers, repeatedly refused comments on any response by the international troops.

Two jets launched the first raid around sunrise, targeting a rebel battalion headquarters within Bouake. An AP reporter in Bouake saw the aircraft fly in low over the town. A boom followed, and a plume of black smoke rose.

Rebels deployed in force across Bouake. Insurgents, faces covered by hoods, erected checkpoints. Frightened civilians stayed inside, with shops closed.

The two warplanes returned at midday and again at midafternoon, dropping fresh bombs.

The third raid targeted rebel headquarters and the antennas of the rebels’ television station, said Francois Guenon, spokesman for the French Embassy in Abidjan.

Government warplanes flew low over a second rebel town, Korhogo, at nightfall, as rebels below manned an anti-aircraft gun.

In Abidjan, the government-held commercial capital in the loyalist south, about 3,000 people marched on army headquarters, demanding a full-scale offensive to retake the north.

“I can tell you that as I speak, the sun has risen for you and set for the others. Stand up, with everyone behind us, and let us liberate the country,” Army chief of staff Gen. Matthias Doue assured the loyalists.

Mobs stormed offices of opposition newspapers, burning one, and gathered outside French military headquarters, calling on Paris to stay out of any renewed offensive by loyalist forces. Government helicopter gunships patrolled the air.

Government and loyalist leaders went on state TV Thursday night, urging against any repeats of what are frequent attacks on foreigners at times of unrest in Abidjan.

Broadcasts from international news services went off the air in Abidjan by afternoon, apparently blocked by the government.

Ivory Coast had stood as West Africa’s single-most stable and prosperous country for decades, welcoming in millions of mostly Muslim immigrants from neighboring northern countries. Tensions between fervent loyalists of the south and the northerners grew in the 1990s amid falls in crucial commodity prices and political change, and a 1999 coup – Ivory Coast’s first – ended the country’s reputation for stability.

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