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4 CAR troops killed in rebel attack

14 March 2013, 12:01

Bangui - Four Central African soldiers were killed in a key southern town in an attack blamed on Seleka rebels, a military source said on Tuesday.

The troops died during an early morning raid on Bangassou, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Monday, just hours after a pre-dawn assault on the town of Gambo, which also lies in the south.

Army officers were unable on Monday to confirm if there were fatalities because all telephone lines in the area were down.

No official source has yet confirmed the deaths.

A military source who requested anonymity said the army had been alerted of an imminent attack several days earlier and had posted troops a few kilometres from the entrance of Bangassou.

The attacks came exactly two months after the rebels signed a peace deal with the government.

After blaming the attack on the Seleka yesterday, the government issued a statement Tuesday condemning the action.

"This is by no doubt another action that confirms that the Seleka coalition is trying to occupy national territory at all costs," it said on Tuesday.

But a separate military source, who also did not want to give his name, said on Tuesday that the attack was by "an armed group from Sudan".

Fragile peace pact

The Seleka - which means "alliance" - signed a peace pact with President Francois Bozize's regime on 11 January in Gabon's capital Libreville.

The accord mediated by regional leaders provided for a new government of national unity, which was formed and is now led by a member of the opposition, Nicolas Tiangaye, and includes Seleka members.

The deal ended a month-old Seleka offensive that quickly swept through the country's north and was stopped thanks in part to Chadian military intervention before the rebels could threaten the capital Bangui.

The peace pact has been fragile, with a similar incident occurring in late February when rebels attacked a northern town. The Seleka coalition later said the attack was the result of a misunderstanding.

Seleka has remained critical of the government since joining it, threatening to pull out of the power-sharing deal, accusing Bozize of running a parallel cabinet and so far balking on the key issue of troop billeting. It is also asking for the release of political prisoners.



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