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Rebels attack town in Central African Republic

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Jan 15, 2007 (BANGUI) — More than 100 rebels attacked a northwestern town in Central African Republic Monday, sparking the first fighting with government troops in more than a month, a presidential spokesman said.

The attack occurred in Paoua, about 400 kilometers northwest of the capital, Bangui.

The rebels, led by a renegade army lieutenant, are allied with another insurgent group which launched a wave of attacks late last year in the country’s northeast.

"Fighting still continues as I speak to you," presidential spokesman Cyriaque Gonda told The Associated Press early Monday. He said the army had succeeded in pushing back the attackers, although the skirmish continued.

The northwestern rebels, calling themselves the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy and the Republic, have been active in the area since last year. Their leader, Lt. Ndjadder Mounoumbaye, defected from the army in 2004.

The group has said it’s fighting because President Francois Bozize has allegedly misruled the country. They are demanding he step down, or agree to share power. Rebels in the northeast, led by Diego Albator Yao, have issued similar complaints.

The Central African Republic has been wracked by coups and army mutinies since wresting independence from France in 1960. Recent fighting has prompted concern that conflicts in Sudan and Chad could be spilling over its borders.

(AP)

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