BANGUI, 13 January 2021 – Rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) staged their closest attack to the capital, Bangui, repelled thanks to the help of peacekeepers, one of whom lost his life.
The attack hit a position manned by United Nations peacekeepers barely 12 kilometers (seven miles) outside the center of the capital.
“The attack was repelled by (United Nations) Blue Helmets together with the Central African forces,” a spokesperson for MINUSCA (the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission to the Central African Republic) said Wednesday in a statement.
“Several rebels were captured, and more than 10 were killed,” the MINUSCA spokesperson, Lieutenant-colonel Abdoulaziz Fall, told reporters.
A peacekeeper from the Rwandan contingent was killed in the attack and another, also a citizen of Rwanda, was injured.
The rebels also tried to take the city from a second front.
Militia groups launched other dawn-time attacks in other towns further from the capital, according to the Interior Minister of CAR, Henri Wanzet Linguissara.
“Thanks to the bravery of our forces and bilateral support, we were able to repel the assailants, who are now in disarray,” Wanzet Linguissara told reporters Wednesday.
In addition to its regular contribution to the peacekeeping mission in CAR, Rwanda last month deployed 300 special forces to protect Rwandan peacekeepers in the central African nation.
Russia also sent troops and military gear to the CAR last month, but Moscow has said their troops are not involved in combat.
The president-elect of CAR, Faustin-Archange Touadera, who won a second term in the presidential election of last December 27 and was declared winner of the ballot last January 4, has accused his predecessor, Francois Bozize, of formenting a coup against his government.
Rebels have continued to attack towns and villages far from the capital.
The rebels have also multiplied attacks to cut off supplies from reaching CAR by shutting down National Route No.3 which links the landlocked nation to the nearest seaport in neighboring Cameroon.
Rebel attacks against MINUSCA positions were reported Saturday in Bouar, about 350 kilometers northwest of Bangui on the road to Cameroon.
On Sunday, UN peacekeepers came under attack from rockets in Grimari, 300 kilometers northeat of the capital.
Militias occupy two-thirds of the country and are believed to have enough men and arms to overwhelm government forces were it not for the 11,500 United Nations peacekeepers.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet later on Wednesday behind closed doors to debate the situation in CAR following a French motion.
The French motion is, among others, supposed to discuss what has to be done to expel foreign troops and mercenaries and ways of reinforcing an embargo on arms sales to the Central African Republic, first put in place at the end of the civil war in 2013.