13 South African soldiers were killed and 27 injured in a clash with rebel group, the Seleka rebel coalition, in Central Africa Republic (CAR). In a statement President Jacob Zuma said “We have confirmed that 13 of our brave soldiers fell in Bangui on Sunday,”. He added that 200 South African soldiers had defended their camp against more than 1,000 rebels, for nine hours, until the rebels asked for a ceasefire.
The rebels seized the capital of CAR, Bangui, on sunday morning. The president of the country, President François Bozizé, fled the country and later appeared in Cameroon.
The rebels promised to stand by an earlier transition plan negotiated in neighboring Gabon that was to lay the groundwork for new elections in two or three years. The plan was for the rebels, the civilian opposition and President Bozizé’s allies to share power. The rebels claimed that the President was not respecting it’s terms. The rebels withdrew from the power-sharing deal and returned to the battlefield.
The South African soldiers had been stationed in the CAR since 2007 training the army. “Running away for us is not an option… They are soldiers and they are where they are supposed to be.” said General Solly Shoke, chief of the South African National Defence Force.
“Following changes in security situation in the CAR the SANDF sent in some more support to protect its personnel and equipment,” Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga said in a statement.