Bangui, 10 Jumadil Awal 1434/22 March 2013 (MINA) – Rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) have clashed with government forces in the north of the country and have seized two towns.
On Thursday, a government official confirmed that forces of the Seleka rebel coalition took two towns in the north of the African country, according to Press TV reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
The rebels first captured Bouca, a town with an airport some 300 kilometers (240 miles) north of the capital Bangui, and then took control of the town of Batangafo, 100 kilometers (62 miles) further to the north.
Seleka spokesman Eric Massi, who is currently in France, said that the rebels would not accept CAR President Francois Bozize’s offer about setting a number of Seleka prisoners free.
On Wednesday, CAR state TV announced two presidential decrees to free political prisoners, lift curfews and ban road blocks manned by pro-Bozize militia.
“We no longer trust Bozize’s promises. We are calling for him to resign, otherwise we will force him out,” the Seleka spokesman said by telephone on Thursday.
Massi added that the Seleka forces faced little resistance from the army troops in Bouca, and managed to capture three CAR soldiers and two army vehicles there.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council expressed “strong concern” over the rising tension in the African country in a statement read out at a press conference by Security Council President Vitaly Churkin.
On January 11, the CAR president and representatives of the Seleka rebels signed an agreement in Libreville, Gabon after three days of negotiations brokered by regional neighbors.
Under the deal, some opposition figures and members of the rebels’ coalition were given a number of key posts in the government.
The rebels have constantly accused the government of not abiding by the deal, and have called for the release of their prisoners.
The Seleka rebels launched an offensive against the CAR government in December 2012.
There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, in the Central African Republic. However, the country is extremely poor and has faced a series of rebellions and coups since it gained independence in 1960.
The Seleka (which means “alliance” in the Sango language) Coalition is an alliance of factions of rebel groups who signed a peace agreements in 2008 which ended the Central African Republic Bush War (2004-2007). The fighters are ex-soldiers and militiamen and are discontent about the compliance of the agreements.
Country of origin: Central African Republic
Type: guerilla / rebel
Goal: the honouring of peace accords agreed upon between 2007 and 2011 and the resignation of CAR President Francois Bozize
Leader: Michel Djotodia
Strenght: 1.000 – 2.000, Seleka claims 3.000
Opponents: CAR government troops (4.500), Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS) with soldiers from Angola, Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo and Gabon (760), South African forces (400) and some French forces.
State of War: actively involved in conflict
Armament: small arms and RPG’s
Operational territory: All of the middle of CAR, from North to South.
Tactics: guerilla tactics, focused on government (or foreign) troops
Best known feat of arms: The occupation of Bambari, the third city in the country, on December 23rd 2012.
From August 2012 onwards, several incidents occurred in Central African Republic in which discontent factions of former rebel groups were involved. They’ve joined forces under the name of the Seleka Coalition and in December 2012 the they’ve started a successful offensive in the North of the Central African Republic (CAR), pushing South towards the capital, Bangui, while taking control of several towns throughout the country. They want the CAR President Francois Bozize to step down. (T/P09/P03).
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)