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Central African Republic rebels advance toward capital

Seleka rebel coalition marches into Sibut, 100 miles north of CAR capital Bangui.

Central african republic rebels advance 12282012Enlarge
A Central African Republic soldier protects a women's march in Bangui on December 28, 2012. Since then, things have only grown worse. (SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Rebels in Central African Republic continued to march towards the capital today, simultaneously capturing new territory while repelling government troops.

There was nothing to stop the rebels – from the Seleka coalition – from entering the town of Sibut, Agence France-Presse reported.

Sibut is nearly 100 miles north of the capital, Bangui.

While making advances, the rebels also withstood government troops trying to retake Bambari, a city further east, AFP said.

By advancing, rebels are defying previous mediation efforts, according to AFP.

The army withdrew from Sibut on Friday, BBC said.

After an appeal from CAR President Francois Bozize, France dispatched more troops to the landlocked African nation.

More from GlobalPost: US evacuates Central African Republic embassy

Despite their arrival, French troops have yet to engage in the fighting and are instead protecting French interests in CAR, a nation with vast mineral wealth.

Soldiers from neighboring Chad are also in CAR trying to buffer the government troops.

An estimated 500 peacekeepers from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) will also be getting reinforcements, Reuters reported.

The rebels and government troops plan to meet in early January for peace talks.

“(Rebels) took positions at strategic points in the town, firing their guns,” Sibut resident Yvon Bema told Reuters. “The national army and the Chadians had left on Friday in the direction of Bangui.”

Reasons for the fighting include pay and jobs for ex-soldiers, Reuters said.

Rebels have said they would remain outside the capital if Bozize promises to honor a former peace deal.

More from GlobalPost: France urged to stop rebels in CAR

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/121229/central-african-republic-rebels-advance-toward-capital