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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Gunfire erupts in CAR
President Ange Felix-Patasse
Patasse has faced several coup attempts in recent years
There has been heavy shooting in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.

The BBC's Joseph Benamsse in Bangui says that troops loyal to former chief of staff General Francois Bozize have been repulsed from the airport by Libyan troops, backing President Ange-Felix Patasse.


The government has ignored what is going on

Joseph Benamsse
The fighting began in the north of Bangui at 1430 local time (1330 GMT) on Friday and heavy guns, rockets, mortars and automatic rifles are being used.

There have been several attempts to topple CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse in recent years, as well as mutinies by soldiers demanding their pay.

"The city centre is now deserted," our correspondent told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme. National radio has now been taken off the air.

Asylum

He says that the authorities have not yet made any public statement about the shooting.

"The government has ignored what is going on," he said.

Colonel Muamar Gaddafi
Gaddafi has sent troops to back Patasse

Police suspect that two recent attacks on towns north of Bangui may have been the work of forces loyal to General Bozize.

He was accused of organising an attempted coup last year and after a week of fighting, fled to neighbouring Chad.

Earlier this week, Chad announced that General Bozize had been given asylum in France in order to diffuse tensions between Chad and CAR.

During last year's fighting, Libyan troops were sent to back Mr Patasse against the rebels.

Central African Republic

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23 Oct 02 | Africa
26 Aug 02 | Africa
04 Feb 02 | Africa
05 Nov 01 | Africa
05 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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