UN Pakistani troops retake control of rebel-held C.African city
UN peacekeeping troops, including from Pakistan, say they have retaken control of a city in the Central African Republic captured two weeks ago by armed groups waging an offensive against President Faustin Archange Touadera's regime.
Rebels abandoned their positions in Bangassou, 750 kilometres east of the capital Bangui, and fled the city following an ultimatum on Friday from the UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA, the force's spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said late Saturday.
Armed groups waging a nationwide offensive captured the city on January 3, forcing many residents to flee to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"After thirteen days sleeping outdoors, people will be able to return to their homes," he added.
Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulaziz Fall, spokesman for MINUSCA's military component, said the UN force intervened to stop attempts at looting overnight Friday to Saturday.
"The situation is calm and under control and positions that had been occupied by armed groups are no longer," Fall said.
Six of the most powerful armed groups, who have occupied roughly two-thirds of the country for eight years, united a month ago to wage an offensive.
The coalition announced their offensive ahead of the December 27 presidential and legislative vote, aimed at preventing Touadera's re-election.
Landlocked CAR is one of the world's poorest nations and has seen a string of coups and wars since it gained independence from France in 1960.
According to the UN peacekeeping website, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) consists of soldiers from many countries including 1,253 from Pakistan.
With inputs from AFP.