The United Nations says it has reclaimed a town in the Central African Republic from rebels who seized it on Tuesday.
“The situation in Bambari is under control,” Abdoulaziz Fall, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA, told a press conference in the CAR capital Bangui on Wednesday.
“The civilians are starting to return. The armed groups have been pushed back into the bush.”
On Tuesday, Bambari, which is 380 kilometres (240 miles) northeast of Bangui, was overrun by a militia called Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC).
Sources said two hours of fighting ensued with MINUSCA, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the CAR. The town mayor said on Tuesday that civilians had not been attacked, but the police station, gendarmerie, and some homes had been ransacked.
The attacks in the CAR’S fourth-largest town come as the country faces elections on Sunday 27 December.
Last weekend, the government accused ex-president Francois Bozize of plotting a coup with armed groups ahead of the vote.
Bozize denies the allegations of an attempted coup, and at the request of the government, Russia and Rwanda sent hundreds of troops.
The government and armed groups signed a peace deal in February 2019, but the country still has bouts of violence.
Militias hold sway over two-thirds of the territory, deriving income from mining and forced payments at roadblocks and on traders.
In the last seven years, thousands have died and nearly a quarter of the population of 4.7 million have fled their homes.