Home | News    Friday 10 November 2006

Central African Republic rebels capture of second town

Nov 10, 2006 (BANGUI) — A spokesman for rebels in Central African Republic claimed his fighters attacked and captured a northern town Friday, the second to fall to rebels in less than two weeks.

Rebel spokesman Abakar Saboune said rebels seized Ouadda-Djalle before dawn. Government and military officials could not be reached for comment and there was no independent confirmation of the claim.

Ouadda-Djalle is about 175 kilometers (110 miles) south of Birao, which rebels captured Oct. 29 near the country’s borders with Chad and Sudan.

"We captured this town (Ouadda-Djalle) in the early hours of the morning this Friday after fierce battle with the regular army," Saboune said by telephone. He gave no casualty figures.

Northern Central African Republic, in a region that has been destabilized by unrest in Sudan’s Darfur, has been troubled for much of the past year. Unidentified armed groups have launched sporadic attacks on military installations in remote areas, displacing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

The rebels say they are fighting to protest government corruption and mismanagement by the administration of President Francois Bozize, who was swept to power in 2003 when his own rebels overran the capital and ousted President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Bozize went on to win elections in May 2005. Patasse now lives in exile in the West African nation of Togo.

Central African Republic, a nation of 3.6 million people, has suffered decades of army revolts, coups and rebellions since the nation gained independence from France in 1960.

The rebels have called on Bozize’s government to hold a national conference to discuss the country’s fate.

Saboune said the government has not responded. "There is no alternative, we have to continue with the military option as President Bozize and his regime are opposed to dialogue," said Saboune, who once served as an army captain under Bozize.

Bozize accuses Sudan of backing the rebels, and government officials say the rebels crossed the border from Sudan’s troubled Darfur region to launch their first attack in October. Sudan has denied the charges.

This week, Chad’s government said ethnic violence in Darfur was spilling across the border, sparking an upsurge of deadly Arab-African fighting among Chadians.