The political stalemate in Ivory Coast following the disputed presidential elections is escalating as gun battles have broken out once again between rival camps.

The crisis is degenerating into armed conflict, as commercial capital Abidjan and the volatile west of the country are witnessing gun battles, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

With daily AK-47 assault rifles and heavy weapons fire booming through Abidjan, and clashes erupting in various places across the country this week, a return to all out civil war is looking increasingly likely, the report said.

More than 300 people have died ever since clashes broke out between rival presidential camps after incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down following the Nov. 28 election. The president refused to hand victory to rival candidate Allasane Ouattara, who was declared winner by the country's election commission.

International pressure has mounted on Gbagbo to stand down, but he is banking on the continued loyalty of the armed forces.

Though there is no clear hint as yet that Ouattara will give green signal to his followers to launch an all-out attack on the president's forces, there have been ample signs of mounting tension, the report has said.

A military source says increasing numbers of soldiers in the Ivorian military are deserting, by switching their phones off and going into hiding. A few are defecting to the other side, it says.

There have also been reports that Gbagbo has been trying to get attack helicopters from Belarus though both countries have denied this.