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The BBC's David Bamford in Abidjan
"The troops purpose was said to be to prect President Ange Felix Patasse"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 19:19 GMT 20:19 UK
Libya comes to CAR's aid
Bangui protestors
Bangui has frequently been the scene of unrest
Two military aircraft from Libya have landed in the Central African Republic, carrying troops and armoured vehicles to support President Ange-Felix Patasse in the wake of Monday's failed coup.

Military sources close to the government said the troops were Libyans.


There are some pockets of resistance, but in the hours to come the situation will be entirely normal

President Patasse
Dissident elements are reported to be still in control of the main barracks in the capital, Bangui.

And a former military ruler, Andre Kolingba, has acknowledged his involvement in the rebellion, though he denied it was a coup attempt.

He said that it was an effort to bring "peace and security to the country" and appealed for France - the former colonial power - to help restore security.

But President Patasse, speaking for the first time since the coup attempt, said the army had the situation in hand and would soon bring the last pockets of resistance under control.

His remarks were carried by a private radio station, as state radio's main transmitter was destroyed during the abortive coup.

Unexpected development

General Kolingba was head of state for 12 years until he lost elections to Mr Patasse in 1993.


The BBC correspondent in Bangui said the Libyan intervention was a new and unexpected development.

The Libyans' purpose is to protect Mr Patasse and his government.

At the same time, loyalist forces have been pounding southern parts of the city still controlled by the rebels with mortars but the rebels are proving difficult to dislodge.

Mr Patasse said: "There are some pockets of resistance, but in the hours to come the situation will be entirely normal."

Instability

The CAR has a history of military uprisings, with three major rebellions against Mr Patasse since 1996.

Low or delayed pay has been a main complaint of soldiers in the rebellions.

President Patasse
President Patasse: Support democracy
The instability in the country led to the intervention of first French and then United Nations soldiers.

On Tuesday, the presidential guard hunted down rebel soldiers and shot them dead in the streets, with witnesses saying that corpses were being left where they fell.

The death toll since Monday is estimated at 20.

Guards killed

A rebel unit within the former French colony's army attacked President Ange-Felix Patasse's villa with automatic weapons and mortars early on Monday morning.

Seven members of the presidential guard died defending Mr Patasse, who was unhurt.

The head of the country's paramilitary police was shot as he ran toward the presidential villa and died on Tuesday of his wounds, authorities said.

For years, Bangui has effectively been divided in two - with the north end loyal to the president and the south a stronghold of the opposition.

[On an earlier version of this story BBC News Online published a photograph of former prime minister Mr Michel Gbezera-Bria. He has not been involved in past or recent mutiny attempts and the photgraph was published in error.]

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See also:

30 May 01 | Africa
CAR: Plagued by mutinies
28 May 01 | Africa
CAR 'coup attempt' fails
23 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Central African Republic
20 Dec 00 | Africa
Uneasy calm on Bangui streets
11 Sep 99 | Africa
CAR presidential poll postponed
10 Sep 99 | Africa
CAR president survives air crash
29 May 01 | Africa
Civilians flee Bangui fighting
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