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We killed 36 SA troops, CAR rebels say

05 April 2013, 12:00

Cape Town - Central African rebel commanders made sensational claims on Thursday that dozens more Southern African troops were killed and captured during the battle in Bangui than admitted by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Times Live reported on Friday that General Hassan Ahmat, commander of the 558-strong Brigade Rouge claimed that he and his men had killed at least 36 South African soldiers and captured 46, releasing them soon afterwards.

"We were coming down from Bossangoa in 19 vehicles and we found the South African troops at PK12," he said.

PK12 is a suburb of Bangui 12km from the city centre and 2km from the South African base at PK10.

"Afterwards, I saw 36 bodies of South African soldiers myself lying near here," he said, pointing to the road into Bangui.

"More could have died afterwards from their wounds."

The general also claimed he had received reports that ousted president Francois Bozize who at the time was guarded by SA troops was “doling out cash to South African soldiers”, although this could not be verified independently.

"That's why I have no respect for them," he said. "Bozize lied that South Africa was here to train Central African Republic's troops. But they were mercenaries; that is why he gave them money."

SANDF spokesperson Brigadier- General Xolani Mabanga described the comments as "blue lies".

'We have no missing soldiers or bodies'

"I don't know what they are planning to achieve with these unfounded stories," he said.

"We were not close to Bozize. If they thought that we were mercenaries, why did they not wipe us out? Why did they not kill us like they are doing with everybody else associated with Bozize?" Mabanga asked.

"We didn't have any troops captured. If they had 46 captured and thought they were mercenaries, why did they not kill them?

"We had one [SANDF soldier] captured and released when the general came and negotiated a ceasefire," he said.

The SANDF had an obligation to declare the death of "anybody who died in the service of the SANDF regardless of the post or position where they served".

"For the record, we have lost 13 men and suffered 27 casualties. Everybody deployed in CAR, we can account for. We have no missing soldiers or missing bodies."

- News24


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