Gunfire erupted in Central African Republic’s capital, forcing residents of northern Bangui to flee to the south of the city, as United Nations Security Council delegates gathered to discuss ways to stabilize the country.
Automatic and heavy-weapons fire began at about 4 a.m. in the Boy-Rabe district before spreading to other areas near the city center, Marbue Hyppolite, deputy editor of Radio Ndeke Luka, a Bangui-based broadcaster, said by phone. The attack was carried out by forces loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize, said Guy Simplice Kodegue, a spokesman for President Michel Djotodia, who came to power after a coup in March.
“Their aim is to seize power before the resolution of the UN Security Council,” Kodegue said in a phone interview. “Our response is organized. The situation is under control.”
The UN Security Council later today will unanimously approve a resolution endorsing the use of force in the country, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said today. France will have 1,200 forces in the country before the end of the year, he said in remarks broadcast on RMC Radio.
Djotodia has failed to impose law and order in the country since a rebellion by groups of fighters known as Seleka brought him to power eight months ago. An ensuing conflict has forced one in 10 people in the country to flee their homes, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, the Geneva-based medical charity.
Central African Republic is the world’s 11th biggest producer of rough diamonds by volume, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The gems, along with timber exports, are the largest source of foreign-exchange for the $3.6 billion economy. The country also produces oil and has deposits of uranium, the USGS says on its website.
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