panel of experts warns that violence may escalate in Ivory Coast, particularly in the north, as parties are rearming despite an UN arms embargo imposed since 2004, according to a letter seen here Saturday. "Despite the arms embargo, the parties to the conflict remain sufficiently heavily armed to engage in sustained armed hostilities and some are rearming," said the letter from the experts sent to the president of the UN Security Council. The panel noted that it had obtained "physical evidence that suggested a consistent pattern of violations of the arms embargo" in the cocoa-rich former French colony in West Africa. It voiced concern that the "number, age and condition of weapons that are presented for inspection (to the UN mission in Ivory Coast or the panel of experts) frequently do not accord with the weapons that are visible on the streets in the hands of various security forces." Last October, the UN Security Council renewed for another year its arms embargo and diamond trade ban as well as targeted sanctions on personalities seen as obstacles to peace in Ivory Coast.