Reuters, Bangui : Security forces in Central African Republic repelled an attack today by armed groups seeking to seize the capital Bangui, athorities said, in a marked escalation of fighting with rebels opposed to the president. The CAR army, backed by French, Russian, Rwandan and U.N. forces, has been battling groups seeking to derail a disputed Dec. 27 election in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared victor. The rebels attacked towns close to Bangui last month but had not until now reached the capital. This time they targeted Bangui on different fronts, including its northern neighbourhoods, Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada said. "We heard gunfire from six this morning. We're staying home - there's panic. We're scared of stray bullets," said north Bangui resident Rodrigue, who only wanted to be identified by his first name. A Reuters witness heard explosions and saw helicopters circling over the city. The situation appeared calm in north Bangui as of 0800 GMT, the witness said.
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