Chadian army takes Central African town from rebels
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