Central African Republic rebels seize diamond mining town on eve of election results

REBEL fighters attacked and partially occupied the diamond mining town of Bangassou in Central African Republic a day before authorities were due to declare results for the country’s presidential election.

At least five rebels were killed and two army soldiers wounded in the clashes. Bangassou lies on the southern border with Democratic Republic of Congo, said Reuters citing a statement by UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA.

The rebels launched an offensive last month after the country’s constitutional court rejected a challenge by ex-president Francois Bozize to challenge President Faustin-Archange Touadera in last Sunday’s vote.

Bozize’s party officially denies he is working with the rebels, but some in the party have suggested they are working together.

After hours of fighting on Sunday, CPC fighters had entered Bangassou, Reuters said. It was not clear to what extent they were in control of the town. Two sources said army soldiers had taken refuge at the MINUSCA base in Bangassou.

An army spokesman said he did not have information about the situation in Bangassou. A MINUSCA spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The Central African Republic descended into chaos in 2013 when mostly Muslim rebels ousted Bozize, sparking reprisals from mostly Christian militias.

Bozize’s candidacy was rejected because he faces an arrest warrant and UN sanctions for allegedly ordering assassinations and torture while president. Bozize has denied those charges.

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