CAR army retakes rebel-held town
Bangui - Central African Republic government troops regained control of a town held by rebels since September 18, military and government sources said on Wednesday.
But a spokesperson for the rebel group, the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), claimed its fighters still held the town in the unstable east of the country.
"The Centrafrican army regained control of the town of Yalinga in the early hours of Monday morning without resistance after rebel elements fled," a source close to the military general staff said.
Troops were preparing to launch an offensive to retake the town when CPJP rebels slipped away, the source said.
An MP for the town, Justine-Veronique Abatchou, who is currently in capital Bangui, said the departure of the rebels had been confirmed to her by residents.
"A number of residents told me about the liberation of my constituency by the army. They confirmed that there was no fighting," she said.
France-based CPJP spokesperson Bevarrah Lala denied that government troops had retaken Yalinga.
"We continue to hold the town. The information given by the army is erroneous and fallacious," he told AFP.
"Since last week, we have seen three vehicles belonging to the presidential guard, but that's all," said Lala, who said he was in regular contact with forces on the ground.
Lala would not say how many CPJP troops were in Yalinga, which has a population of about 10 000 people.
Yalinga is near the town of Ndele, the former base of the CPJP until they were driven out by a government offensive in May and June this year.
The CPJP has refused to sign a peace agreement with Bangui aimed at bringing stability to the country, and claims its leader, a former minister, was murdered while in detention in January, which the government denies.