Reuters

BANGUI–A rebel column advanced on the capital of Central African Republic from the northwest on Saturday, attacking the town of Bossembele and opening a second front for government forces already battling insurgents northeast of Bangui. A spokesman for the Seleka rebel coalition, which accuses President Francois Bozize of breaking a January peace agreement to integrate its fighters into the army, said its forces had seized control of Bossembele, 160 km (100 miles) northwest of Bangui.

Seleka spokesman Eric Massi said a second column was around 30 km (20 miles) from the capital to the northeast. Local residents reported fierce fighting in Bossembele, which is home to a major military barracks, and at least one said rebels had captured the town. It was not immediately possible to confirm this with government officials. “We have taken Bossembele,” Massi said by telephone from Paris. “We are now 100 km (60 miles) from Bangui on this front.”