3 killed in CAR rebel attack
Bangui - A rebel attack on a key
northern town in the Central African Republic killed at least three people and
wounded several but the attackers had been forced out, the army said on Tuesday.
Dissident fighters from a rebel
movement that has signed up to a peace process with the government stormed the
northern town of Birao before dawn on Monday, sparking exchanges of gunfire
Hours later the army said it was
in control of the town, the main centre in a volatile area near Chad and Sudan
and also a base for about 300 UN peacekeepers tasked with protecting refugees
and aid distribution.
"We registered one loss in
our ranks after the fighting yesterday (Monday)," an army source in Birao
said, asking not to be identified.
"One dead was also counted
on the rebel side, and a youth in the self-defence forces was killed," he
Youths had formed a self-defence
unit after frequent attacks on the town, the official said. "They are
armed by the population to defend the town and to support the forces of defence
and security in such cases," he said.
Several civilians were wounded,
probably by stray bullets, but there was no toll.
The army had chased out the
attackers, he said, adding "there must have been other casualties"
among the rebels during the rout.
The Movement of Centrafrican
Liberators for Justice (MLCJ), one of several rebel groups that have joined a
peace process with the government of the country, admitted on Monday that the
attackers were dissidents from its ranks.
Some sources said the attackers
were angry that they had not received food allowances as part of a disarmament,
demobilisation and reintegration process that rebel groups have signed up to.
After years of instability, the
Central African Republic has begun a peace process of which long-delayed presidential
and legislative polls are an essential part.
The electoral commission has
proposed the elections be held on October 24, having already postponed them
twice so far this year.