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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 12:35 GMT
New CAR clashes dash peace hopes
President Patasse
President Patasse sacked General Bozize last month
Fighting in the Central African Republic intensified on Wednesday despite a UN envoy earlier talking of a possible end to the five-day rebellion.

Libyan troops backing President Ange-Felix Patasse advanced on rebel-held positions in the capital, Bangui, while planes assumed to be from Tripoli conducted air-raids.

CAR timeline
Nov 2001: Attempted arrest of General Bozize
Oct 2001: General Bozize sacked
May 2001: Attempted coup
1993: Incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse elected
1960: CAR gains independence from France
Late on Tuesday, General Lamine Cisse told the BBC that following his talks with sacked army chief General Francois Bozize, the rebel leader had agreed to the reopening of the main road from Bangui.

The CAR was once more plunged into violence over the week-end following an attempt to arrest General Bozize on charges of involvement in a failed coup attempt in May in which nearly 60 people were killed.

General Bozize denies the charge.

Civilians fleeing

Most army units started fighting to protect their former chief, while Libya sent extra troops in support of President Patasse.

The president's office now accuses the sacked army chief of plotting to stage a military take-over.

General Francois Bozize
The attempt to arrest Bozize sparked the latest fighting

"We have information from reliable sources of preparations for a coup d'etat with foreign support and connivance," said a statement.

As bombs were being dropped on northern Bangui, the CAR Prime Minister Martin Ziguele happened to be speaking on the phone to the BBC French Service.

An explosion was audible and the Prime Minister calmly remarked, "the plane is bombing now".


The areas worst-hit by Wednesday's shelling are Boye-Rabe, Bouh and PK10, all of which are held by dissident factions of the army.

Civilians are fleeing northern, rebel-held districts of the capital, Bangui.

Colonel Gaddafi
Gaddafi: Getting more involved in Africa

"People are leaving Boye-Rabe; men, women and children. There are many. The bombs are falling anyhow," said one man from the area.

OAU mediators are due to arrive in the Central African Republic on Wednesday.

General Bozize is currently holed up in a military barracks in the north of Bangui.

Numerous coups

The southern and central parts of Bangui are reported calm, with some schools and businesses reopening, according to witnesses.

The Libyans first intervened in the Central African Republic in May when a former military ruler tried to overthrow the elected civilian president.

The Libyan troops, whose presence in Bangui illustrates Colonel Gaddafi's increasingly active role in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, say they are restoring order.

The Central African Republic has experienced numerous coups and mutinies since independence from France in 1960, many based on ethnic differences.

But the BBC's West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle says this crisis is different as President Patasse and the army chief he has fallen out with are both from the same northern tribe.

See also:

05 Nov 01 | Africa
More Libyan troops in Bangui
04 Sep 01 | Africa
CAR mobile phone exiles
12 Jun 01 | Africa
UN steps into CAR ethnic tension
03 Jun 01 | Africa
Army occupy CAR general's house
28 May 01 | Africa
CAR 'coup attempt' fails
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