A rebel attack on a Central African Republic town left at least four dead and 22 government troops captured by the rebels, sources said Saturday.
On Monday, rebels of a splinter group of the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) attacked the town of Ndele, sending residents fleeing into the bush to escape the fighting in the impoverished coup-prone country.
No official death toll of civilians or fighters had yet been released, although security forces reported two army and paramilitary police killed.
A military official in Bangui said Saturday that two paramilitary police and two members of the military were killed in the attack on Ndele and Sam Ouandja, 200 kilometres (120 miles) from Ndele in the country's northeast.
Another northeastern town, Ouadda, was also attacked.
"A soldier belonging to a FACA (Central African Armed Forces) unit fleeing toward Kaga Bandoro (south of Ndele) died when he fell from a public transport vehicle," he added.
A spokesman for the UFDR splinter group, Colonel Djouma Narkoyo, told AFP the Red Cross had buried the dead, but was unable to say how many.
"We disarmed 22 FACA members and took them prisoner, and they are still being held in our camp," he said, adding that they were being treated well.
The military official said President Francois Bozize told military leaders he was bitter that soldiers had fled when they came under attack.
"He gave orders to the military leaders to ask the soldiers who fled to return to the regions where they are based immediately."
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday that it had stepped in to help people who fled the fighting.
The ICRC said nearly 300 people had taken shelter near a camp set up by a CAR peace mission and were receiving aid such as drinking water.
Several hundred people fled their homes after the attack Monday on Ndele, according to the ICRC.
On Thursday local journalists said that calm had returned to the town.
The rebels claim the government has done nothing to improve conditions in the region following peace agreements in April 2007.
Ndele, a town with nearly 20,000 inhabitants close to the Chadian border, lying on busy trade routes linking Sudan and Cameroon, was at the heart of clashes between different rebel groups and the army between 2007 and 2010.© ANP/AFP