Central Africa army kills 9 gunmen after attack

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BANGUI, Sep 14 (Reuters) Government soldiers in Central African Republic killed nine gunmen during a clash with around 60 armed men who attacked the northwestern town of Bocaranga, the government said today.

The unidentified attackers looted shops and stole motorbikes during the raid yesterday close to the borders with Cameroon and Chad, a region which armed bandits, rebel groups and ill-disciplined government soldiers have turned into a web of insecurity.

''Elements of the Central African armed forces based in the region reacted immediately, chasing them 17 km (11 miles) north of the town and killing nine of the enemy,'' the defence ministry said in a statement read on national radio.

It said the attack appeared to have been carefully prepared and aimed at resupplying the group with food and equipment.

A two-year-old bush war fought against rebels across northern parts of the former French colony has left villages deserted as rebels and government soldiers loot with impunity.

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said in a report today that hundreds of civilians had been killed and thousands of homes destroyed since 2005 across northern Central African Republic, mostly by government troops engaged in counterinsurgency operations.

REUTERS RAR AS2226

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