Potential Hot Spots: Central African Republic

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May 2, 2006: The Central African Republic ( CAR) government has closed its border with Sudan. That will be hard to actually do-- the CAR lacks the necessary aircraft and wheeled vehicles to patrol the area. Apparently, France has agreed to increase aerial patrols out of the CAR capital of Bangui. The CAR government also said that it now believes rebels in Chad are attempting to set up bases inside the CAR, something the government says it will not permit. The CAR government indicated that it does not want to be drawn into either the Sudan-Chad war or Chad's internal conflict.

The government also said that Russian made Antonov-32 transports plane that landed inside the CAR on April 26 and 27. The aircraft flew in from "the east" (meaning Sudan). The Chad rebels who flew in may belong to the United Front for Change (UFC). These two aircraft landed illegally inside the country. Both planes were carrying approximately 50 fighters allied with rebels opposing the current government Chad. The planes landed in the town of Tiroungoulou (800 kilometers northeast of Bangui, near the Chad border). One plane landed on April 26, the other on April 27. The CAR government said that it was responding to the incidents with increased military patrols. The CAR has also asked France for intelligence support. The entire area near the Chad border has been a problem for the CAR government. Several former CAR rebel groups operate in the area. Many have become bandits. Given the lack of government control in the area and the porosity of the borders, it is entirely possible that anti-Chad rebel groups from Sudan have been transiting the CAR (heading to Chad) and that anti-Sudanese rebel groups have been moving in the opposite direction. The use of aircraft to land rebels, however, is brazen, and indicates that the rebels have local contacts whom they trust to provide security for the transport operation.

 

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