Rebels seize capital of Central African Republic
Sunday 24 March 2013
France will send more troops to the Central African Republic to protect its citizens there after armed rebels seized the capital Bangui.
A government statement gave no details of troop numbers, but said French President François Hollande had spoken with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chadian President Idriss Deby and repeated his plea for restraint and dialogue between all parties.
Rebels in Central African Republic seized control of the riverside capital after fierce fighting yesterday, forcing President François Bozize to flee and raising fears of instability in the mineral-rich heart of Africa.
At least nine South African soldiers were killed trying to prevent the rebels from taking Bangui, a witness said, dealing a blow to Pretoria’s attempt to stabilise the chaotic nation and assert its influence in the region.
The Seleka rebel coalition resumed hostilities this week in the former French colony and quickly swept south towards Bangui with the aim of toppling Mr Bozize, whom it accused of breaking a January peace deal to integrate its fighters into the army.
“We have taken the presidential palace,” Eric Massi, a Seleka spokesman, told Reuters by telephone from Paris.
Senior government officials confirmed the rebels had captured the city of more than 600,000 people, which lies on the banks of the Oubangi river bordering Democratic Republic of Congo. Residents reported widespread looting of homes and businesses.
“The looting is bad. Both the population and Seleka are involved,” said one senior UN official in Bangui. “We are not sure who is in charge. I don’t think it is clear yet. It is too early in the game.”
The violence is the latest in a series of rebel incursions, clashes and coups that have plagued the landlocked nation – which has rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium – since its independence from France in 1960.
The whereabouts of Mr Bozize – who seized power in a 2003 coup backed by neighbouring Chad – was uncertain. A presidential adviser said he had crossed the river into Congo yesterday morning as rebel forces headed for the presidential palace.
The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed Mr Bozize had fled Bangui, but gave no details of his whereabouts. He appealed to France’s 1,200 citizens in the country to remain calm and stay in their homes.
CAR has extensive and unprotected borders and the rebel takeover may add to instability in the turbulent region. It was one of several countries where US Special Forces were helping local soldiers hunt down the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group that has rampaged across Central Africa and killed thousands.
France, which already had 250 soldiers in Central African Republic, has sent in another company of 150 troops to secure Bangui’s airport.
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
- 1 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 2 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 3 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 4 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
- 5 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
The bubble bursts for Sodastream
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
'Santa Claus' dead: John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...