Cha­dian army takes Cen­tral African town from rebels

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

LI­BRE­VILLE: Cha­dian troops with tanks on Tues­day took con­trol of the northeastern town of Bi­rao in the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic af­ter it was aban­doned by rebel forces, the govern­ment and rebels said.

"We have evac­u­ated" Bi­rao, said Be­var­rah Lala, spokesman of the Con­ven­tion of Pa­tri­ots for Jus­tice and Peace (CPJP), reached by tele­phone from Li­bre­ville, six days af­ter the rebels took the town.

"Since yes­ter­day (Mon­day) night, there has been ground fight­ing and ... the town has just been taken back by the Cha­dian army" from across the border to the north, Lala added.

The Cen­tral African govern­ment con­firmed later Tues­day that Bi­rao was no longer in rebel hands.

"The sit­u­a­tion is un­der con­trol and we de­plore, while wait­ing for an ex­act toll, the loss of five men," Jean-Francis Boz­ize, de­fence min­is­ter and the son of Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Boz­ize, told AFP. Ac­cord­ing to Lala, Cha­dian troops crossed the border in pur­suit of their own rebel forces who were said by the Cen­tral African au­thor­i­ties to be among the group in Bi­rao.

The Cha­di­ans "have tanks" and "en­tered Bi­rao from their Cha­dian base in Abeche," in east­ern Chad, about 600 kilo­me­tres (370 miles) north­west of Bi­rao, ac­cord­ing to Lala.

Late Tues­day the head of the Cha­dian army, Gen­eral Alain Mbaido­de­nande Dion­adji, con­firmed to AFP that Cha­dian troops had in­ter­vened in Bi­rao in north­east CAR in pur­suit of re­bel­lious Cha­dian sol­diers and for border se­cu­rity.

"The Cha­dian armed forces ex­er­cised their right to pur­sue to elim­i­nate the re­main­der of the 'mer­ce­nar­ies' who have in­volved them­selves with uniden­ti­fied ad­ven­tur­ers who were holed up in Bi­rao," the gen­eral said. -Afp

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