Rebel Fighters Captured Bangassou

Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan 3 (AFP/APP): Rebel fighters captured the southern Central African city of Bangassou on Sunday, weeks after they were accused of an attempted coup and ahead of partial results from a tense presidential election.

“The rebels control the town,” Roosevelt Pierre Louis, head of the UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA’s regional office in the city, told AFP. “They are everywhere.” Government troops had “abandoned their position and are at our base”, he added.

Earlier Sunday, MINUSCA tweeted that UN peacekeepers had been protecting the city and the bodies of five fighters had been found. It also tweeted that the fighters attacking the city were allied to former president Francois Bozize.

Since December 19 a coalition of rebel groups, which control two-thirds of the coup-prone country, has been waging an offensive initially aimed at disrupting elections that were nonetheless held on December 27.

President Faustin Archange Touadera’s government has accused Bozize of fomenting an attempted coup — a charge he has denied. Bangassou, which sits on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, is about 750 kilometers (470 miles) from the capital Bangui.

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