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Fighting Rocks Capital of Central African Republic

October 29, 2002|From Reuters

BANGUI, Central African Republic — Heavy fighting rocked this capital Monday as Libyan-backed government troops battled rebels loyal to a former army chief for a fourth day, residents said.

Residents of Bangui reported hearing automatic weapons fire about a mile north of the residence of President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Rebels have held the area since Friday. Despite heavy shelling over the weekend by government soldiers, neither side appeared to have gained much ground by Monday.

In New York, a "deeply concerned" U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the uprising and called on the rebels to lay down their arms, chief U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Annan also urged the international community to help deploy a small peacekeeping force in the area, Eckhard said.

The State Department described security as uncertain and advised Americans to defer travel to the country.

The rebels support ex-army commander Francois Bozize, who masterminded a failed uprising against Patasse in November 2001.

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