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CAR Moves to Disarm Rebel Fighters, Halt Violence

Soldiers patrol on an armoured vehicle as people demonstrate for the restoration of peace within the country in Bangui, Sept. 2, 2013.
Authorities in the Central African Republic have begun a new disarmament campaign aimed mainly at rebels who overthrew the president in March.

Minister of Public Security Jose Binoua said Wednesday the campaign is a response to a surge in robberies, auto thefts, rapes and murders blamed largely on fighters with the Seleka rebel movement.

Binoua said he hopes to disarm rebel fighters living in parts of the capital, Bangui, outside six designated military barracks. He said any Seleka fighter walking around with a weapon outside those areas should hand over their weapon at a designated location.

He also said the Bangui city limits would be closed to cars for the length of the campaign, which is expected to last about 10 days.

The campaign is being carried out by police under the supervision of officers from Seleka and the CAR's armed forces.

Seleka has exerted little control in the CAR since toppling President Francois Bozize on March 24. A two-month disarmament campaign led by the African regional force FOMAC had little effect, and men can still be seen walking around freely with guns.

Last week, the U.N. refugee agency reported that several thousand civilians had taken refuge at the Bangui airport to escape looting and violence in their neighborhoods.