Home | News    Wednesday 28 June 2006

Chad rebels attack inside Central African Republic

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June 27, 2006 (BANGUI) — Chad rebels attacked Central African Republic government troops and African peacekeepers in the restive north, officials said Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Barthelemy Feidoka said in a statement read on state radio that there were some casualties in the fighting that broke out Monday in the town of Gordil, near the Chad border, but he offered no details.

Feidoka said the clashes included forces from a 350-soldier peacekeeping unit sent to the country by a west African regional bloc during a previous bout of unrest. There were no details.

Feidoka blamed the attack on rebels from neighboring Chad, but a homegrown insurgent group operates in the same far-flung northern region.

Since fresh attacks by Central African Republic insurgents in September ended a period of relative calm, 20,000 refugees have fled north into Chad and 50,000 others are believed displaced from their homes and living in rough conditions inside the country, the U.N. says.

The Central African Republic rebels, about which little is known, mostly operate in the north, far from Bangui. They have twice attacked military installations and tried unsuccessfully to capture the town of Paoua to use as a headquarters.

During fighting there in late January, the government said 27 people died. Attacks and insecurity have continued since. Government military officials also say Chadian insurgents fighting to oust the N’Djamena government cross into Central African Republic’s largely unguarded countryside.

Central African Republic has suffered decades of army revolts, coups d’etat and rebellions since the nation of 3.6 million gained independence from France in 1960. The latest wave of attacks ended a period of relative calm after Gen. Francois Bozize seized power in 2003 before later winning presidential elections.

While the landlocked nation is rich in gold, diamonds and other minerals, its governments have been chronically cash-poor, unable to meet payrolls of the military and civil servants and lawlessness and insecurity has reigned in the countryside.

International observers are growing increasingly concerned about instability in the region where Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic meet.

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled from Sudan’s Darfur region into Chad. In addition to the Central African Republic rebels, Chadian rebels have their bases in the region. Chad’s government accuses Sudan of backing them, while Sudan accuses Chad of backing Darfur rebels.

(ST/AP)

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