Vatican News English Africa Service
The city’s Catholic Bishop, Juan-José Aguirre Muñoz, MCCI, said Monday, the situation was calm, but there had been looting, and many residents had fled into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
An assault on the city by rebels and mercenaries
Earlier reports spoke of artillery attack on the city by the suspected infamous 3R rebels (3R -Retour, Réclamation, Réhabilitation) and the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic (FPRC) rebels. Bishop Muñoz, however, said a combination of mercenaries and rebels had overrun the city. The mercenaries are looking for natural resources and wealth.
“Yes, Bangassou has fallen into the hands of the rebels, many of whom are mercenaries and people from Niger. The morning (Sunday) was hectic. There was heavy artillery from 5 am with about thirty dead and wounded,” said Bishop Muñoz, the Bishop of Bangassou, a city in the southeastern Central African Republic, lying on the north bank of the Mbomou River.
Residents have fled to nearby DRC
The Bishop reports that, after trying to resist the rebel offensive, government soldiers fled Bangassou. “The military put up resistance for several hours” but were overwhelmed, said Bishop Muñoz.
As a result of the fighting, “part of the population of Bangassou has fled to Congo,” said the Bishop. Civilians have crossed the Mbomou River to seek refuge in the town of Ndu, just across the border. “Bangassou is almost deserted now. Sunday night went fairly well. There was no shooting,” confirmed Bishop Muñoz.
Touadera wins CAR’s presidential election
The siege on the city of Bangassou further complicates President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s electoral win announced Monday.
According to Reuters, Touadera won Central African Republic’s 27 December presidential election by securing more than 53% of votes in the first round, according to provisional results announced by the electoral commission on Monday.
“Faustin-Archange Touadera, having received the absolute majority of the vote in the first round with 53.9%, is declared winner,” Mathias Morouba, president of the electoral commission, told a news conference in the capital, Bangui.
CAR’s election was marred by a coordinated offensive carried out by rebel groups who tried to disrupt the vote after its highest court rejected former President Francois Bozize’s candidacy.