Bangui, Central African Republic – Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), is tense after armed rebels launched a coordinated attack on the outskirts of the city on Wednesday evening.
The attack – the first in the capital city since the December 27 elections – was repelled by the UN mission and government forces.
“I’m under tension at the moment,” said a soldier from the Central African armed forces keeping guard in Bimbo, a suburb of Bangui that came under attack.
The Coalition of the Patriots for Change (CPC), a group comprising of the country’s six most powerful rebel groups that created havoc in the run-up to the country’s legislative and presidential elections, have launched sporadic attacks across the country since it was formed on December 19 to oppose President Touadera’s re-election.
Several civilians and some Central African soldiers were reportedly wounded and a UN soldier was killed in the coordinated attack that saw the use of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), automatic rifles and mortars.
The government said at least 30 rebels were killed and five captured.
Sonia, a 35-year-old widow, says she was woken up by gunshots on Wednesday morning in Bimbo area. “I was forced to leave as it was too dangerous. At least here there is a bit more security,” said Sonia as she waited with her children on the side of a street in downtown Bangui. “I don’t even know where I will sleep tonight.”
Some civilians told Al Jazeera they fled their homes after hearing gunshots on Wednesday.
The 12,000-strong United Nations MINUSCA force strongly condemned the attack, holding the armed groups responsible for “the consequences of these violence on civilian populations”.
The CPC has been accused by the government of fomenting a coup.
Former President Francois Bozize, who is now under investigation by the public prosecutor’s office for supporting the CPC, has backed the rebels the day before the elections.
The presidential election was marred by violence and low turnout due to threat of violence from the rebels.
President Touadera has said the country is at war in his New Year message.
“It is my painful duty to tell you tonight that we are at war. The Republic is at war. Its survival is threatened,” he said.
The recent violence has forced nearly 30,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
“We want peace, we only want peace. We suffered too much,” Roselie, a resident of Bangui, told Al Jazeera.