Central African Capital Quiet after Coup Attempt
A tense calm returned to the Central African Republic capital on Thursday, though dissident soldiers were thought to be holding out against Libyan-backed President Ange Felix Patasse's forces.
"It is calm, but we don't know where we are now," said one diplomatic source.
The source said that by Thursday morning sporadic gunfire had died down in Bangui, the capital of the impoverished former French colony that in the past three days has suffered its worst bloodshed since a series of army mutinies in the 1990s.
Diplomats expressed concern on Wednesday that after Libya flew in troops and military equipment to shore up Patasse's position, the two sides were heading for a possible showdown.
"There has been a buildup on both sides. Patasse has made it clear there will be no forgiveness or pardon. It looks like they are both digging their heels in," one Western diplomat said.
Patasse vowed on local radio station Ndeke Luka to crush the rebels and former army ruler Andre Kolingba, who is accused of leading them.
"He (Patasse) has proved, contrary to the disinformation of the putschists and their partisans, that he is very much alive, in command of his country and has escaped safe and sound from the rain of fire that Kolingba's men poured on his residence," said presidential spokesman Prosper Ndouba.
Ndouba told Reuters Kolingba had been officially demoted from general to the rank of private -- BANGUI (Reuters)
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