Annan "strongly condemns the attack by Ivorian armed elements on the village of Guetrozon near Douékoué in western Côte d'Ivoire on 31 May and 1 June, which has reportedly resulted in the deaths of at least 41 people", a spokesman for the UN chief said on Thursday.

Nine people were killed in apparent revenge for a massacre that left some 50 dead, prompting a communal exodus and stirring fears that a fragile peace will dissolve completely.

Violence over the past two days brings to nearly 100 the number of people killed in the southwest since late April in clashes between indigenous farmers and the generations of economic migrants lured to Ivory Coast to turn it into the main driver of the West African economy.

Full enquiry

"The secretary-general urges the Ivorian authorities to conduct a full enquiry into the incident and ensure that the perpetrators of the attack are quickly brought to justice," the UN spokesman said.

[Annan] "calls on all parties concerned to refrain from any action that may lead to an escalation of tensions between various communities"

UN spokesman 

Annan "calls on all parties concerned to refrain from any action that may lead to an escalation of tensions between various communities in Côte d'Ivoire", the spokesman added.

Observers and aid workers fear the attacks signal a new wave of violence that may draw also on Ivory Coast's fragile neighbors Liberia, where thousands of disarmed ex-combatants sit idle, and Guinea, where the failing health of President Lansana Conte could provoke a power grab.