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Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 14:14 GMT
CAR seeks rebel general
President Patasse
President Patasse sacked General Bozize last month
Government forces in the Central African Republic are pursuing the former army chief, who fled to the north of the country on Wednesday after the collapse of his mutiny.

A government spokesman said the safety of the general, Francois Bozize, could no longer be guaranteed as he had been stirring up trouble since his flight.

Troops loyal to President Ange-Felix Patasse, backed by Libyan forces, have captured General Bozize's stronghold in the capital, Bangui, after five days of fighting in the city.

Bangui itself appeared calm on Wednesday, with people returning to the streets, although banks remained closed.

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

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

General Bozize denies the charge.

Air raid

During the operation, Libyan troops advanced on rebel-held positions while planes assumed to be from Tripoli conducted air-raids.

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

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

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

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

Civilians fleeing

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.

Colonel Gaddafi
Gaddafi: Getting more involved in Africa

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

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

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

Numerous coups

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.

The BBC's Mark Doyle
"The Libyans are taking an increasingly active role in sub-Saharan Africa"
See also:

08 Nov 01 | Africa
CAR's rebel without a cause
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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