Multinational force warns over C. Africa Rep. rebels' advance
AFPBANGUI, Central African Republic--The commander of multinational African force FOMAC on Wednesday warned rebels in the Central African Republic against trying to take the key town of Damara, saying it would “amount to a declaration of war.”
January 3, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Damara is the last strategic town between the Seleka rebel coalition and the capital Bangui, after the rebels seized much of the country in a three-week advance that began in the north and has brought them to within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the capital, in the south.
“Let it be clear, we will not give up Damara,” said FOMAC commander General Jean-Felix Akaga.
“If the rebels attack Damara that would amount to a declaration of war and would mean that they have decided to engage the 10 central African states,” he told reporters in Bangui.
“I honestly don't think they will go that far.”
Akaga said Bangui was well secured by FOMAC troops and reiterated that Damara remained the last key government-controlled town before the capital, located 75 kilometers away on the southern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The red line is Damara,” he said.
In the center of the country, residents of the village of Ngakobo said four people had died in clashes between villagers and rebels that broke out when a group of rebels tried to loot a local sugar refinery.
Residents saw the rebels raiding the refinery Tuesday and attacked the ambulance they were trying to use to cart off their loot, slashing its tires, a resident told AFP by phone on condition of anonymity.
“The rebels were furious and opened fire on the residents. They killed two of them. After that, clashes broke out and two rebels were stabbed to death,” he said.