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CAR Calls for UN Peacekeepers After Rebel Attack


The Central African Republic says armed forces crossed the border from Sudan and took control of the northern city of Birao Monday. The government is calling on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to the region. International concern is growing that violence in Sudan's Darfur region is spilling over into neighboring countries. Jordan Davis reports from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

Officials in the capital Bangui say rebel forces entered the city of Birao early morning Monday and took control of the city and its airport.

They say the attack caused both civilian and military casualties, but did not give specific numbers.

The city of Birao is situated approximately 50 kilometers from the Central African Republic's border with Sudan.

Government spokesman Cyriaque Gonda says the fighters who attacked Birao arrived from across the Sudanese border. Speaking from Bangui, he urged the United Nations to send peacekeepers to prevent future incursions.

U.N. officials presented a plans to the Security Council late last week to send peacekeepers to Chad and Central African Republic.

There has been growing concern in the region that rebels are using the war-torn Sudanese province of Darfur to launch attacks on neighboring countries.

The United Nations says hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced from eastern Chad and the northern Central African Republic.

The Central African Republic's Union of Republican Forces rebel movement is led by loyalists of former President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Patasse was overthrown by current president Francois Bozize three years ago. Over the past year the security situation in the Northern CAR has worsened with increasing roadside attacks that Bangui has blamed on the rebel movement.