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CAR: UPC Rebels Invade Zemio Town, Loot And Destroy Houses

Inhabitants of Zemio town are being attacked by UPC rebels in the Central African Republic.

Rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) are continuing their onslaughts on the local populations as fighters of  Union for Peace (UPC) reportedly invaded Zemio town on Thursday, April 22.

Zemio is situated about 1,113 kilometres to the Southeast of Bangui, in the Haut-Mbomou district.

Local sources told HumAngle that a large contingent of fighters of the rebel group, Union for Peace, led by Ali Darassa, the UPC self-proclaimed general and Chado-Nigerien national, arrived in the town on Thursday while many more arrived on Monday, April 26. 

The rebels who came in from Mboki town, situated 120 kilometres in the south of the Central African Republic arrived at the town in 10 motorbikes.

Shortly after arriving Zemio, the UPC rebels went straight to harassing inhabitants, extorting money from civilians, and ended up burning down several houses in the town, a local source who declined to be named for safety reasons said. 

It is not yet known what this massive arrival of UPC fighters in Zemio is all about but local populations associate their arrival to a thirst for looting which they have already started doing.

“Many local civilians have already left the town. Some have escaped into the bushes while others have moved on to other towns,”  one civil society activist —who opted for anonymity because he fears for his life— told HumAngle on Monday.

“On Sunday, April 25, the rebels proceeded with the destruction of certain houses at the centre of the town and some of the people who have the courage to remain in the town fear the rebels may not stop at only burning down houses. They have killed people in some of the villages they occupied before and the fear here is that they may also visit killings on Zamio.”

The UPC leader, Ali Darassa, after being chased away from Bambari by Russian mercenaries fighting on the side of the Bangui government, pitched his tent in Mboki, close to Mbomou.

The UPC rebels who had joined the six-group Coalition of Patriots for Change (UPC) had earlier this month decided to quit the alliance after several days of talks with Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada and the UPC minister in the Bangui government, Hassan Bouba who is a Chadian.

“It is no secret that after quitting the CPC alliance, the UPC is now on the side of the Bangui government,” the activist added. 

“What the people here cannot understand is whether the torture being visited on the people by UPC fighters has the blessing of the Touadera government.” 

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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