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Central African Republic Rebels Report Seizing New Town

Rebels in the Central African Republic say they have captured a second town in the north of the country. They say they are fighting corruption and mismanagement by President Francois Bozize, who himself came to power in a 2003 coup. Mr. Bozize accuses Sudan of backing the rebels.

The town of Ouadda-Djalle is about 150 kilometers south of Birao, the first town that rebels captured on October 29.

Rebels from the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity say they captured the second town before dawn Friday.

Military officials quoted by French media confirmed the town had been seized and that there were casualties among soldiers. Government officials contacted by VOA would not comment.

Analyst Paul Melly, who has followed developments in the Central African Republic for more than fifteen years, says the new capture could be significant.

"It takes the rebels some way towards the region where people produce diamonds in the CAR," Melly said.

CAR president Bozize, accuses Sudan of backing the rebels. The president of nearby Chad, Idriss Deby, also accuses Sudan of backing rebels against his own government.

This is possible, says Melly.

"Basically, relations between Sudan and Chad are very poor and the government of the Central African Republic is closely allied with the (Idriss) Deby regime in Chad. So exerting pressure on Central African Republic would also be a way of exerting pressure, if you like, on Chad through the back door," he said.

Sudan accuses Chad of backing rebels in the Sudanese region of Darfur. Sudan's government also says that the CAR rebels are disgruntled soldiers who formerly supported President Bozize.