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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
CAR President: barracks recaptured
Bangui protestors
Bangui has frequently been the scene of unrest
President of the Central African Republic Ange-Felix Patasse says troops loyal to him have regained control of barracks seized on Monday by mutineers.


The mutineers had been using the main barracks in the capital, Bangui, as a base after Monday's attempted coup failed.

There has been no independent confirmation of the presidential announcement, which was issued through his office.

The president had claimed earlier in the week that troops loyal to him had control of the city, but as fighting continued this did not appear to be the case.

Peace call

On Thursday, the former military ruler of the Central African Republic called on rebellious soldiers to lay down their arms and stop fighting.

Speaking to a French radio station, Andre Kolingba said: "I ask the mutinous soldiers to return to their respective residences."

President Patasse
President Patasse: Claims control of Bangui
Libyan troops and Congolese rebels arrived in the CAR during the week to support President Patasse.

Diplomatic sources say they are members of a Ugandan-backed Congolese rebel faction, led by Jean-Pierre Bemba.

President Patasse accused Mr Kolingba of being behind the coup.

Mr Kolingba acknowledged his involvement in the rebellion but 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.

French diplomats are believed to be trying to arrange an end to the fighting.

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

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.

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.

At least 20 people died in the initial phase of the fighting, and the death toll is now feared to be much higher.

The BBC correspondent in Bangui said that the figure could be much higher with the army's renewed push for control.

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.

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See also:

30 May 01 | Africa
CAR: Plagued by mutinies
29 May 01 | Africa
Civilians flee Bangui fighting
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
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