BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) —
Central African Republic soldiers killed at least 44 rebels in an offensive against the fighters that have been launching attacks against the government of the newly re-elected President Faustin-Archange Touadera, the government said.
The fighting occurred in the village of Boyali, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Bangui, the capital, Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada said on his Facebook page Tuesday.
“Everything will be done to put an end to this adventure aimed at the destabilization of the country’s institutions,” he said.
The army also regained control of Boda in the southern part of the country, with the support of Rwandan and Russian soldiers, according to Bienvenu Ali, the director of the Central African Institute for Statistical, Economic and Social studies and an ally of the president.
The army’s offensives give the military control over two main roads to the capital.
The rebels attacked the outskirts of Bangui on Jan. 13 in fighting that killed at least two U.N. peacekeepers. The rebels blocked important access roads to the capital, causing food prices to skyrocket.
The rebels’ attack was the most serious threat to Bangui since 2013, when a coalition of predominantly Muslim rebels known as Seleka overthrew then-president Francois Bozize. The Seleka formed a government that they said would redress the years of marginalization of the country’s Muslim population.
Later that year, the Seleka government was challenged by militia fighters known as the anti-Balaka who attacked Bangui. The anti-Balaka began attacking Muslim civilians, beating people to death in the streets, destroying mosques and forcing tens of thousands of Muslims to flee Bangui in 2014.
The Seleka rebel president eventually stepped aside amid international pressure and an interim government organized democratic elections in 2016, which Touadera won.
While Touadera won re-election to a second term in December with 53% of the vote, he continues to face opposition from forces linked to ex-president Bozize, who was disqualified from taking part in the presidential vote. Much of the recent violence began after the courts rejected his candidacy before the Dec. 27 elections.
The violence is also inflaming Central African Republic’s humanitarian crisis, in which tens of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries since December.