French special forces have detained Cote d'Ivoire's Laurent Gbagbo, the French ambassador in Abidjan and a Gbagbo adviser in France have said.

"Gbagbo has been arrested by French special forces in his residence and has been handed over to the rebel leaders," Toussaint Alain told Reuters.

A spokeswoman for forces loyal to his rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara also confirmed the arrest .

"Yes, he has been arrested," spokeswoman Affoussy Bamba told Reuters.

Earlier on Monday a column of more than 30 French armoured vehicles advanced towards Gbagbo's residence in Abidjan, marking the first time that forces from the former colonial ruler have become involved in the ground operation to oust him.

Source: Agencies