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In an irony of history, Mr. Gbagbo is said to have severed the link between the residences shortly after coming to power in 2000. He accused France of backing a rebel group that attempted to overthrow him in 2002, and fighters from this same group are now backing Mr. Ouattara and carried out Wednesday’s attack on the residence.

The pro-Ouattara forces began their lightning advance just over a week ago, attacking from the east, west and center of the country. At least 80 percent of the countryside was under their control by the time they entered Abidjan, the nation’s largest city.

On Tuesday, Mr. Gbagbo’s soldiers were seen abandoning their posts, some rushing inside a church to tear off their uniforms before re-emerging in civilian clothes. His generals issued orders to stop fighting.

Yet Mr. Gbagbo, a former history professor, appears to have calculated his rival’s weakness: Mr. Ouattara knows that he needs to take Mr. Gbagbo alive to maintain international support and to avoid further alienating voters who supported Mr. Gbagbo in last year’s election.

From inside his bunker, Mr. Gbagbo blasted the world in back-to-back interviews on French TV station LCI and French radio RFI. He said that he would never step down that there was nothing to negotiate, and he called the operation to oust him an international “game of poker.”

Ouattara spokeswoman Affoussy Bamba said that she was nonetheless optimistic that the end was near.

“He has nothing left. His arsenal is gone. His army has evaporated,” she said by telephone from Abidjan. “How much longer can he last?”

Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations; Michelle Faul in Accra, Ghana; and Cecile Brisson in Paris contributed to this report.