Bangui, Central African Republic – Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), is tense after armed rebels launched a coordinated attack on the outskirts of the city on Wednesday evening.
The attack – the first in the capital since the December 27 elections – was repelled by the UN mission and government forces.
“I am under pressure at the moment,” said a Central African armed forces soldier guarding Bimbo, a suburb of Bangui which was attacked.
The Coalition of Patriots for Change (CCP), a group made up of the six most powerful rebel groups in the country that wreaked havoc ahead of the country’s legislative and presidential elections, has launched sporadic attacks across the country since. his formation on December 19 to oppose the re-election of President Touadera.
Several civilians and some CAR soldiers were reportedly injured and a United Nations soldier was reportedly killed in the coordinated attack which saw the use of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), automatic rifles and mortars.
The government said at least 30 rebels had been killed and five captured.
Sonia, a 35-year-old widow, says she was awakened by gunfire on Wednesday morning in the Bimbo district. “I had to leave because it was too dangerous. At least here there is a little more security, ”Sonia said as she waited with her children on the side of a street in downtown Bangui. “I don’t even know where I’ll be sleeping tonight.
Some civilians told Al Jazeera they fled their homes after hearing gunshots on Wednesday.
The UN MINUSCA force, 12,000 strong, strongly condemned the attack, holding the armed groups responsible for “the consequences of this violence on the civilian population”.
The CCP has been accused by the government of plotting a coup.
Former President Francois Bozize, who is currently under investigation by the prosecution for his support of the CCP, backed the rebels on the eve of the elections.
The presidential election was marked by violence and low turnout due to the threat of violence from the rebels.
President Touadera said the country was at war in his New Year’s message.
“It is my painful duty to tell you tonight that we are at war. The Republic is at war. Its survival is threatened, ”he said.
The recent violence has forced nearly 30,000 people to flee to neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.
“We want peace, we only want peace. We have suffered too much, ”Roselie, a resident of Bangui, told Al Jazeera.