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CAR rebels resume fighting, attack town

22 March 2013, 13:08

Bangui - Central African rebels attacked the eastern town of Bossangoa on Friday, a military source said, in their first assault since announcing this week they would resume fighting after government failed to meet their demands.

"A rebel attack in Bossangoa is underway, it is difficult to know what is going on exactly because telephone lines have just been cut," the source said, requesting anonymity.

A spokesperson for the Seleka rebel coalition, Eric Massi, told AFP the insurgents had taken the town, 250km from the capital Bangui.

"There was very little fighting because the Central African Armed Forces had already left. It took only 15 minutes to seize the town and we are busy securing it," he added.

Seleka announced on Wednesday they would resume hostilities after a deadline for government to meet their demands under a January 11 peace deal expired.

The rebels launched a major offensive on December 10, bringing them to the outskirts of the capital Bangui, over the government's failure to implement earlier peace agreements such as integrating former fighters into the army.

The peace deal has remained fragile and hampered by mistrust, with the rebels threatening to pull out of the power-sharing deal if their demands were not met.

The rebels on Sunday declared they would not withdraw their fighters unless the government released political prisoners and South African soldiers left the country.

They also seized five ministers who joined the unity government from rebel ranks after a peace deal.

President Francois Bozize has ordered political prisoners in the country to be freed and a 10-week curfew to be lifted, but the rebels immediately rejected these concessions as insufficient.



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