Voice of America (Washington, DC)

3 December 2013

Cameroon Deploys Troops to CAR Border

Photo: ICRC/Boris Heger
Some of the injured who were evacuated from the combat zone by the ICRC in Bangui.

The government of Cameroon said it has deployed troops to its eastern border with the Central African Republic to stop rebels from entering the country. Officials said the rebels are bringing weapons into Cameroon's territory.

Most of the combat-ready soldiers deployed to cover the nearly 800 kilometer border between Cameroon and the Central African Republic are of the elite corps called the rapid intervention unit.

Cameroon Defense Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo'o told VOA President Paul Biya ordered the deployment in response to information that rebels were escaping into eastern Cameroon after the arrival of more French troops in the CAR capital, Bangui.

Mebe Ngo'o said the president of the republic has taken energetic and emergency measures. He said the east now has reinforced security that covers all the border, not only with the Central African Republic, but also with the Republic of Congo. The president has ordered a rapid deployment of troops to the porous border.

The Central African Republic, which is troubled in the best of times, has sunk into chaos since rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in March. More French and African troops are due to arrive in an effort to halt fighting, looting and lawlessness that have left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and desperate for food.

In mid-November, armed men from the Central African Republic entered Cameroon and ransacked the village of Biti. Seven people, including a civilian, died in a confrontation between the rebels and Cameroonian soldiers. The local population blamed the government for not doing enough to protect them.

Mebe Ngo'o is asking the population to be calm and have confidence in the troops.

Cameroonians should be reassured, he said, the republican army is loyal, faithful, and effective. He said the forces have been positioned to respond energetically if attacked.

It is not uncommon for trouble in the Central African Republic to spill over into Cameroon. One of the CAR's rebel leaders, Abdoulaye Meskine, was arrested in the east of Cameroon and his whereabouts have not been made public.

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