Rebels in Central African Republic captured a ninth town since resuming a rebellion on Dec. 10 to force the government to renegotiate a 2008 peace deal.
The fighters seized the town of Bambari, about 281 kilometers (174 miles) northeast of the capital, yesterday, Edouard Mathos, the bishop of the town, said in a phone interview. The northern towns of Ippy and Ndassima were taken by the rebel forces, known as Seleka, they said in a statement published on the website of Centrafrique-Presse, a news website.
At least two CAR soldiers have been killed and 25 have been captured since the rebellion began, Seleka said in a statement published in the Bangui-based Centrafrique Matin newspaper today. Seleka consists of the Democratic Front of the Central African People, the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Justice, the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity and the Patriotic Convention for National Salvation.
Rebel forces want the terms of the four-year-old, so-called Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement renegotiated after accusing President Francois Bozize of failing to implement terms of the accord. The renegade fighters also oppose plans by Bozize to alter the constitution to seek a third term, according to the statement published on Centrafrique-Presse and signed by Justin Mambissi Matar, secretary-general of Seleka.
The Economic Community of Central African States on Dec. 22 called for an end to hostilities and urged all parties to immediately enter talks, following a meeting of regional leaders in neighboring Chad. They also demanded that the rebels withdraw to their previous positions within a week.
Central African Republic was the world’s 12th-largest producer of rough diamonds by value in 2010, when output was 250,000 carats, according to data on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. A carat is equal to a fifth of a gram. The country also produces gold and has undeveloped resources of copper, iron, manganese and uranium, the USGS said.