Rebels in Central African Republic take 7th town
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Rebels in Central African Republic seized another town in their rapid offensive Thursday, residents said, moving to within about 400 kilometers (250 miles) of the capital.
However, the alliance of rebel groups behind the attacks said it would hold on to the towns they'd already taken but now were ready to hold negotiations with the government.
"While awaiting to see the realization of this step, the advance of our troops has been unilaterally halted," the alliance known as Seleka said in a statement given to journalists.
The two-week offensive by the rebels seeking to re-negotiate past peace deals already has prompted the government to seek military help from neighboring Chad.
Some 2,000 Chadian forces arrived Tuesday, about a week after the rebel offensive began, and will be used to secure strategic routes and fortify the capital of Bangui.
In just two weeks, the rebels have taken at least seven towns including Batangafo, which residents said they seized early Thursday.
"A vehicle entered to drop off a first contingent of rebels, then others arrived in a procession of motorcycles," around 10 a.m., resident Ousman Ngang-Dan told The Associated Press.
The rebel alliance known as Seleka come from three separate rebel groups who are demanding that the government re-negotiate the terms of past peace accords.
Central African Republic is a desperately poor, landlocked country that has suffered numerous rebellions since independence from France. President Francois Bozize himself came to power in 2003 through a rebellion that was backed by Chadian forces.