Friday, August 30, 2013

■ CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Bangui M'poko Int'l Airport resumes partial operations following disturbances.

Bangui's Mpoko International Airport has been partially reopened with some flights cleared to land after the tarmac was inundated with Central African citizens fleeing marauding Seleka rebels who had gone on the rampage in the neighbouring Boeing quarter.

The Central African Republic's national newswire reports that Air France's weekly Wednesday flight to Bangui was delayed from 07h00 to 21h00 in light of the dangerous situation on the ground. Royal Air Maroc's Wednesday morning flight was also forced to divert.

The disturbances began on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning when Seleka rebels entered the Boeing neighbourhood, a purported stronghold for deposed president, François Bozizé, shooting and destroying property indiscriminately. Residents then fled to the airport where they sought the protection of the local French Army garrison.

The French and local Central African forces are reported to have spent the whole of Wednesday remonstrating with the locals urging them to abandon the runway but to no avail.

Teargas was subsequently used to disperse the crowds following which limited flight operations were allowed to resume, though there are reports that "several hundred people" are still refusing to leave the airfield and its environs.