27 March 2013

South Africa: Defence Force Denies Troops Attacked By CAR Soldiers

Photo: IRIN
South African soldiers.

Johannesburg — The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on Wednesday rejected reports that Central African Republic (CAR) troops attacked and killed its soldiers.

"The SANDF would like to distance itself from such allegations and reports at this stage," spokesman Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga said.

The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that mutinous government forces in revolt against CAR President Francois Bozize shot dead the first South African soldiers, and not rebels.

It said detailed reports emerged on Tuesday about how CAR government soldiers carried out and carefully planned attacks on South African troops, who, for the past six years, had been training and equipping their counterparts.

President Jacob Zuma announced the 13 deaths on Monday. The soldiers, all part of the One Parachute Battalion, were killed over the weekend.

Apart from those killed, 27 SANDF members were wounded when more than 200 South African soldiers fought rebels.

During media briefings held on Monday there were conflicting reports on the exact size of the rebel force. Zuma said there were 1000, while SANDF chief General Solly Shoke said 3000. Zuma also said the South African government had not decided to withdraw the army from the CAR.

When asked on Wednesday about troop movement or withdrawal Mabanga said: "Nothing has changed".

"The situation [in the CAR] remains calm," Mabanga said.

The soldiers' bodies arrived in South Africa on Tuesday evening.

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