Central Africa Republic government troops working alongside Russian mercenaries killed 44 rebel fighters 90 kilometers outside the capital, according to what a CAR government spokesperson told French news agency AFP.
The statement, posted on social media on Monday, said that the CAR army had the help of “allied forces” in Boyali village. There were no deaths on the government side, but “44 dead including several mercenaries from Chad, Sudan and the Fulani” ethnic group, according to the post.
“Government forces are back on the offensive,” said government spokesman Ange-Maxime Kazagui.
This latest incursion by rebels follows President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s state of emergency declaration last Thursday, after the rebel attempt on Bangui from Bimbo, a town on the outskirts of the capital. The rebels were repelled by the MINUSCA UN peacekeeping force, CAR soldiers, and Russians and Rwandans.
A number of rebel groups control two-thirds of the country, and the rebels, who do not agree with the latest CAR election outcome where Touadera was elected, have tried to seize the rest of the country. The rebels have tried to cut off major roads leading to the capital.
Meanwhile, the opposition levied a complaint against what they believed was a fraudulent election process, taking its case to the Constitutional Court. However, the Court confirmed Touadera as the winner on 18 January, which opposition leaders rejected.
The violence surrounding the electoral crisis has taken a toll on the Central African population, as nearly 100,000 people have fled within the country, according to UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), since fighting erupted in December before the election.
More than 84,000 have fled to neighbouring countries, including Sudan, Chad, and Cameroon, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which still works within the country, 46 wounded people have been transported to hospitals in Bangui and Bambari. But the ICRC has indicated that access to the most dangerous areas is not a given.
“Disturbing signs of non-compliance with this principle are beginning to appear. Now is the time to act to prevent such violations from happening again,” said ICRC CAR country head Bruce Biber.
“Despite the context of political uncertainty, violence and instability, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to negotiate with weapon bearers its access to dangerous areas in order to rescue the wounded and assist the thousands of families whose lives have once again been turned upside down by the violence,” said ICRC in a statement.
Many of those who have fled are living precariously in the bush and waiting for the fighting to be over, but may not have access to food. The ICRC has noted that the rebels cutting off the main roads to Bangui has disrupted supply chains and no humanitarian food access can get through.