Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Central African Republic town 'empty' after rebel raid

map of Central African Republic, showing Ndele

Most residents have fled Ndele town in northern Central African Republic after clashes between rebels and the army.

"The town is empty of its population who have fled into the bush," Jean-Sebastien Munie of the UN's humanitarian agency told the BBC.

The CPJP rebels attacked at dawn on Thursday but the army is now in control. Casualty numbers are unclear.

The BBC's Chris Simpson in CAR says the CPJP is one of the rebel groups not to have signed a government peace deal.

Mr Munie, the head of Ocha in the CAR, said the fighting was not accompanied by serious looting or general mayhem and the military is now patrolling the town.

Two children were killed in the aftermath of rocket attacks and some wounded have begun arriving at the hospital, he said.

Rebels reportedly stole two vehicles to transport their wounded fighters from the town.

Our correspondent says the events in Ndele offer another bleak reminder of the CAR's fragility.

The CPJP is one of the fringe rebel movements and is reported to have support from within the Runga ethnic group.

The movement is much given to grandiose, angry communiques, but has little national profile and not much in the way of a political programme, our reporter says.

But it has been active around Ndele for months, posing something of a headache to the government and to the UN, both of which are trying to disarm and demobilise rebel movements.

The Sultan of Ndele, who appears to have the respect of both sides, has put himself forward as a mediator in the past and may do so again now, our reporter says.

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