ABIDJAN (AFP) - Troops loyal to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo retained key positions here Tuesday after beating back fighters of his presidential rival in a key battle for control of this economic capital. Pro-Gbagbo forces were in control of a strategic military barracks in the northern suburb of Adjame after the heaviest day of fighting since the disputed November 28 presidential poll plunged the west African country into violence. Forces backing internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara tried to move south towards central Abidjan from their stronghold in the northern suburbs but met fierce resistance from Gbagbo loyalists, witnesses said. There was heavy shelling by both sides but no word on casualties. "We are in control of the camp, we are busy carrying out a sweep of the area, but the fighting was very, very hard," said a police source who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They were determined, they were numerous," he said, referring to the pro-Ouattara fighters. Gbagbo troops used heavy weapons and reinforcements from a nearby camp of paramilitary gendarmes, the country's biggest, to beat back the assailants.