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Bangui Under Tension After Rebel Offensive

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The Security situation in Central Africa can be described as tense and unpredictable because anything is capable of happening as the rebels of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) attacked Bangui on Wednesday January 13.

This was the first time since the start of their offensive to prevent the re-election of Faustin-Archange Touadéra, re-elected for a second term on January 4, the rebels attacked the capital Bangui.

According to reports on ground, the offensive began at dawn, 9 and 12 km from the centre of the capital, when army brigades were simultaneously attacked, authorities said.

“Thanks to the bravery of our forces and the bilateral support, we have been able to repel the attackers who are currently in disarray,” said the Minister of the Interior, Henri Wanzet-Linguissara.

Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada, for his part, referred to a provisional toll of “30 attackers killed” and “5 captured”, without specifying whether it concerns Bangui or the entire territory.

Rwandan peacekeeper Killed

“The attack was repelled by the Blue Helmets, together with the Central African armed forces,” declared Vladimir Monteiro, spokesperson for the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (Minusca), who deplores the loss of a Rwandan peacekeeper.

The UN force “strongly condemns the attacks by the anti-Balaka, UPC, 3R and MPC coalition armed groups and their political allies, in particular former President François Bozizé,” added Vladimir Monteiro.

“Several rebels have been captured, more than a dozen have been killed,” added UN peacekeeper spokesman Abdoulaziz Fall.

On Wednesday morning in the PK12 market where the offensive took place, traders immediately closed shop.

Regular forces, Russian paramilitaries and peacekeepers were present in large numbers, along with several armored vehicles.

By late afternoon, sporadic gunfire was still ringing in several neighborhoods. The government spoke of “search operations” and helicopters were engaged against rebels hidden in the hills, according to several humanitarian sources.

The Minusca force said it had taken measures to strengthen the protection of Bangui and prevent rebel infiltration.

“What the rebels have understood is that the international community is measuring the crisis in the Central African Republic from what is happening in Bangui,” analyzes Frenchman Roland Marchal, researcher at the International Research Center (CERI) of Sciences Po Paris.

This is why they are carrying out actions in the immediate outskirts of Bangui, not to take Bangui which is very defended, but to show that Touadéra no longer controls anything or much.

“The rebels are waging a war of nerves,” said Thierry Vircoulon of the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri). They can engage in urban guerrilla warfare and hope that in the long run they will take Bangui. ”

A lifting of the arms embargo requested In New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the Security Council, in a unanimous statement, “strongly” condemned attacks by unidentified armed fighters.

António Guterres and the Council, which held a closed-door meeting on the Central African Republic at the request of France, also called on “all parties to end the violence and engage in constructive dialogue.”