News / Africa

CAR Rebels Seize Another Town

Map of Central African Republic
Map of Central African Republic
Anne Look
Rebels in northern Central African Republic (C.A.R.) have seized another key regional capital, their fourth in the past two and a half weeks, as negotiations with the government struggle to get off the ground.  

A new rebel coalition in C.A.R. launched its offensive in the north on December 10.

The rebel group, known as Seleka, seized the town of Kaga-Bandoro on Tuesday. The rebels are now within 300 kilometers of the capital, Bangui, located near the country's southern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(FILES) A picture taken on June 21, 2008 shows Chadian soldiers parading in N'djamena.Rebels waging an offensive in the Central African Republic seized Kaga-Bandoro, another major town, on Dec. 25, 2012.(FILES) A picture taken on June 21, 2008 shows Chadian soldiers parading in N'djamena.Rebels waging an offensive in the Central African Republic seized Kaga-Bandoro, another major town, on Dec. 25, 2012.
x
(FILES) A picture taken on June 21, 2008 shows Chadian soldiers parading in N'djamena.Rebels waging an offensive in the Central African Republic seized Kaga-Bandoro, another major town, on Dec. 25, 2012.
(FILES) A picture taken on June 21, 2008 shows Chadian soldiers parading in N'djamena.Rebels waging an offensive in the Central African Republic seized Kaga-Bandoro, another major town, on Dec. 25, 2012.
Seleka unites four rebel groups from the north.  Many of the fighters were involved in a four-year conflict that officially ended with peace accords in 2007, though fighting has repeatedly flared up in the north since 2009.

The speed and ease with which this united rebel army has seized key towns in the north is raising concern.  Analysts say government troops are putting up little resistance.

Chad, a close ally of the President Francois Bozize, has sent in reinforcements.

International Crisis Group Central Africa Director, Thierry Vircoulon, said the Chadian army is the government's "safety net" and it is unlikely rebels will engage them.

He says the Chadian army is deployed strategically around the capital to protect it.  Vircoulon says the rebels control about one-third of the national territory right now, however their objective is not necessarily to take Bangui and overthrow the government.  He says the rebels have seized key towns to demonstrate their military superiority and put themselves in a strong position at the negotiating table.

The seizure of Kaga-Bandoro on Tuesday came just one day after the rebels had agreed to stop their advance and open dialogue.  Rebel leaders have said they do not plan to march on the capital.  The government has said it would not negotiate until the rebels pull out of all captured areas.

Six regional leaders, united under the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), say the rebels must withdraw and have offered to hold peace talks in Gabon's capital, Libreville.

Seleka says the government has not respected the peace accords of 2007 and 2011, including provisions to pay rebel fighters and integrate them into the army.

Thousands of civilians have reportedly fled this most recent bout of fighting in the north where insecurity has raged on and off for years.

C.A.R. spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Vincent Pouget, told VOA from Bangui that fighting has cut cellular phone connection to the region.

He says it is hard to know exactly how many civilians have fled and where they are going, which is making aid efforts difficult.  He says some are fleeing to temporary makeshift homes near their fields, while others are fleeing to the bush, neighboring villages or to perceived safe places like a Catholic mission.  He said providing clean drinking water and latrines is a key priority to prevent disease.

Doctors Without Borders says it has received reports of violence against civilians, including looting.  MSF says many displaced are still too afraid to return home.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid