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CAR Rebels Capture New Town; French Embassy in Capital Attacked

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Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Rebels in Central African Republic captured another town in the north of the country as protesters in the capital, Bangui, attacked the French Embassy.

Kanga-Bandoro, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Bangui, was seized on Dec. 25, according to Radio Ndeke Luka, a Bangui-based broadcaster, which cited the four-member rebel group known as Seleka. Students protested outside the French and U.S. embassies in Bangui yesterday over the rebellion. They burned a French flag and called on the U.S. to help the government halt the rebels’ advance.

“The U.S. is the most powerful country in the world and we solicit their support to help the government fight against the rebels,” Amos Kotto, a student at the University of Bangui, said in an interview in front of the U.S. Embassy.

The rebels have captured at least 10 towns since resuming fighting on Dec. 10. They 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 fighters also oppose plans by Bozize to alter the constitution to seek a third term.

CAR government officials will travel to Libreville, the Gabonese capital, tomorrow to hold talks with the rebels, Foreign Minister Antoine Gambi said in comments broadcast on Radio Ndeke Luka yesterday.

The U.S. has warned its citizens against traveling to the CAR and recommends against “all but essential travel” outside Bangui. The United Nations has begun evacuating staff from the country, according to Agence France-Presse.

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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Crispin Dembassa-Kette in Bangui via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

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