Home | News    Sunday 27 May 2007

Armed men thought to be from Darfur occupy town in Central Africa


May 226, 2007 (BANGUI, CRA) — Nearly 1,000 armed followers of a Central African Republic rebel have occupied a town in the central part of the country, apparently after crossing from rear bases in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, a rival rebel leader said Friday.

The men are believed to have crossed into the country from the northern outpost of Am-Dafock, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from Bangui, which sits at the border with Sudan. They are now in Sam-Ouandjia, a town in the center of the country, roughly 650 kilometers (400 miles) from the capital.

"They have arrived in the town nearly two days ago disguised as refugees," said Damane Zakaria, a rebel leader who recently signed a peace accord with the government of the Central African Republic.

Officials in the capital declined to comment on the development and aid groups working in the region could not immediately be reached.

Zakaria, who heads the Union of Democratic Forces Coalition which controls the northeast of the country, said the men are loyal to his former comrade-in-arms Abacar Saboune. Saboune, who is in prison in the country of Benin, defected from Zakaria’s group when the rebel leader agreed to sign the peace accord on April 13.

Central African Republic has suffered decades of army revolts, coups and rebellions since it gained independence from France in 1960.

The unrelated violence in Darfur, where Sudanese rebel groups have been fighting their government since 2003, had increased instability across the region where Sudan, Central African Republic and Chad meet. Sudanese refugees have come to the Central African Republic, and Central African fighters have taken advantage of the lawlessness in Darfur to establish rear bases there.

The town where the armed men are allegedly holed up was last attacked by Zakaria’s army last November.


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