Potential Hot Spots: November 3, 2001


: Another Battle For Bangui- Fighting erupted in Bangui, the Central African Republic's (CAR) capital, early in the morning hours of 3 November, when government soldiers tried to arrest former army chief General Francois Bozize for alleged involvement in the failed 28 May coup.

About 300 troops loyal to General Bozize took up positions in the northern sections of Bangui, then advanced a few miles south. They took the strategic Ngola bridge (which links the northern and southern parts of the city) on the 4th and displaced elements of the Presidential Guard with fire from rifles, rocket launchers and mortars.

The Bozize loyalists were moving toward President Ange-Felix Patasse's residence and were 2.4 kilometers from the villa by nightfall. Libyan troops, flown in to help quell a failed coup attempt in May, were guarding Patasse's residence. Presidential guard units, also responded by moving armored cars and tanks into Bangui's streets.

Bozize loyalists took up positions on a hill overlooking the city at one AM on the 5th and shelled Patasse's residence in the center of town for one hour, but there were no hits reported on the residence. CAR Presidential guards, backed by Libyan troops, retaliated with artillery fire into Bangui's northern suburbs. Gunfire was audible around Patasse's villa around 09:30, but died away later in the morning. Sporadic shooting and mortar explosions kept shops in Bangui closed and civilians indoors. An Antonov transport brought in dozens more Libyan troops, but heavy gunfire could be heard coming from the area surrounding Patasse's residence into the evening. 

Bozize had been dismissed from the military on 26 October without explanation, as part of a major reshuffle of senior army posts. Patasse's spokesman noted that a commission of inquiry into the May putsch had delivered a summons to Bozize (who had already appeared before the inquiry) and Bozize's security staff believed it was an attempt to arrest him. Bozize had taken refuge in the Territorial Infantry battalion barracks north of the city. Libya promised to send another planeload of troops, which should be all it takes to settle the matter.- Adam Geibel


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