Several dead in CAR attacks

2009-12-09 14:10

Bangui - Government forces in the Central African Republic have attacked rebel positions near the border with Chad to prevent them from storming a key northern town, a military official said on Wednesday.

Speaking under cover of anonymity, the official said "several" fighters from the rebel Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) were killed in the attack Monday night in the northern Ngarba region.

Two government soldiers were also killed, and two others seriously injured.

The army ordered the operation after receiving information that the rebels were preparing to launch a fresh assault on the town of Ndele, 120 kilometres to the south, the official said.

Rebel forces briefly seized control of Ndele late last month, after leading several abortive assaults on the town, before it was retaken by the army in clashes that left more than a dozen dead.

Monday night's assault was "aimed at destroying the CPJP's rear base," the official said.

In a statement, the rebel movement accused Bangui of "mistakenly pursuing a logic of war", accusing it of ignoring an offer of negotiations extended to the government in August.

"The launch of hostilities against us will only needlessly weaken the country," it charged.

The CPJP is led by Charles Massi, who was prime minister under Ange-Felix Patasse, the president toppled in a bloodless coup by General Francois Bozize in 2003.

It is the only one of Central Africa's rebel movements not to have reached a peace accord with Bangui.