Central African Republic rebel group accused of deadly village attack

The alleged attack tests a truce declared last month by President Faustin Archange Touadera that he said aimed at fostering a national dialogue.

FILE: A man rides a motorbike in front of the jail of Bangui, "Maison Centrale de Ngaragba", whose walls are painted with the colors of the flag of Central African Republic. Picture: AFP

BANGUI - A rebel group attacked a village in northwest Central African Republic, killing at least two government troops and a civilian, opposition groups said on Tuesday.

The alleged attack tests a truce declared last month by President Faustin Archange Touadera that he said aimed at fostering a national dialogue.

A 12-party opposition alliance called COD-2020 said the 3R armed group last Thursday attacked the village of Letele in Bocaranga district, about 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the capital Bangui.

"COD-2020 condemns this violent action by the 3R... (and) urges the president to take the appropriate practical measures so that the ceasefire is respected by both sides," it said in a statement.

The government did not immediately reply to an AFP request for comment.

Touadera on October 15 declared a "unilateral ceasefire" after pro-government forces made gains against rebel groups that previously controlled some two thirds of the territory.

The main armed groups said they would also honour the truce.

Several rebel groups have accused Touadera's forces of violating the ceasefire, although it is difficult to verify the allegations.

Touadera has been bolstered by the arrival of hundreds of Russian paramilitaries and Rwandan troops, who rushed to the country last December to thwart a rebel advance on Bangui.

Pro-government forces then went on the offensive, recovering all of the major towns and pushing the rebels back into forest sanctuaries.

The CAR is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite having mineral treasures that range from gold and diamonds to copper and uranium.

The former French colony spiralled into civil conflict in 2013 when the then president, Francois Bozize, was ousted by a rebel coalition drawn largely from the Muslim minority.

The coup triggered a bloodbath between the Seleka coalition and so-called "anti-Balaka" self-defence forces, mainly Christian and animist.

French intervention and the deployment of UN peacekeepers helped dampen the violence, opening the way to Touadera's election. He was returned to office after disputed elections last December.

Despite their losses, the rebel groups, often claiming to represent the interests of specific ethnic groups, remain powerful.