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Militias Seize Villages in Western CAR

Central African troops in charge of disarmament drive a tank through Bangui, Central African Republic, Sept. 5, 2013.
New unrest is reported in the Central African Republic [C.A.R.], following clashes between local armed groups and the Seleka rebel coalition that seized power earlier this year.

On Tuesday, a local witness told VOA's French to Africa Service that community-based militias have gained control of several villages near the western town of Bossangoa.

Seleka forces clashed with the militias near Bossangoa on Saturday and Sunday, and government spokesman Guy Simplice Kodegue said 60 people were killed.

The local fighters are believed to be loyal to former C.A.R. President Francois Bozize, who comes from Bossangoa. However, Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa director for the International Crisis Group, said not all of the fighters are Bozize supporters.

Vircoulon also said the C.A.R. is in dire need of more international assistance. "The violence is going to escalate if there is no emergency security response and at this stage, only the international community can provide the emergency security response."

He said the African peacekeeping force active in the CAR, along with a small group of French soldiers, have not been able to keep up with the rising violence.

Relief agencies say a majority of the civilians in Bossangoa have fled from the town and are hiding in the forest.

Bozize was ousted by the Seleka coalition in March. The coalition is trying to push through a political transition process that calls for elections in the country in the next 18 months.

C.A.R. has endured a long series of coups and rebellions since gaining its independence from France in 1960.