Rebels launch attacks close to C. Africa capital

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Nevin Al Sukari – Sana'a – Refugees from the Central African Republic wait in line in front of the administrative offices in Garoua-Boulai, Cameroon, January 8, 2021, where the UNHCR will process them after they fled CAR last month and took refuge in Cameroon. — AFP pic

BANGUI (Central African Republic), Jan 13 — Rebel forces in the Central African Republic today launched two attacks that were pushed back on the outskirts of the capital Bangui, Interior Minister Henri Wanzet Linguissara told AFP.

Officials with the UN peacekeeping force confirmed the two attacks.

Today’s simultaneous dawn assaults on army units were the first close to the capital since President Faustin Archange Touadera was re-elected in a December ballot.

Fighting was still underway, said UN Minusca mission spokesman Abdoulaziz Fall, who only spoke of one attack.

A coalition of armed rebel groups, accused of an attempted coup after their offensive to disrupt last month’s presidential elections, have vowed to march on Bangui.

Wednesday’s dawn attacks nine and 12km from the capital targeted two army brigades but the rebel forces were repelled, the minister said.

The incidents are the latest since the alliance of Central Africa’s six most powerful rebel groups who control two thirds of the country launched an offensive to prevent Touadera’s re-election.

He won the December 27 vote and was declared the winner on January 4.

The rebels have since carried out sporadic attacks most in towns far from the capital and they have been repelled by UN peacekeepers and Central African troops along with Rwandan soldiers and Russian paramilitaries sent to help.

CAR prosecutors have launched an investigation into former president Francois Bozize, who the government accuses of plotting a coup with the help of armed groups.

Bozize, who denies the allegations, came to power himself in a coup in 2003 before being overthrown in 2013, after which the country slid into sectarian conflict. — AFP

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