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Fresh fighting in Central African Republic; U.S. leaves

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 28, 2012 at 9:36 a.m.

— Renewed fighting between government forces and rebels seeking to overthrow the president broke out Friday in Central African Republic’s third-largest city, a military official said, hours after the U.S. ambassador and his team were evacuated from the capital.

Government soldiers appeared to be in control of Bambari after the clashes, according to military officials. The town is located about 240 miles from the capital and had been under rebel control for five days.

The United States evacuated about 40 people, including the U.S. ambassador, on an U.S. Air Force plane bound for Kenya, said U.S. officials who insisted on anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the operation. The United States has special forces troops in the country who are assisting in the hunt for Joseph Kony, the fugitive rebel leader of another rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The U.S. special forces remain in the country, the U.S. military’s Africa Command said from its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

The evacuation of the U.S. diplomats came in the wake of criticism of how the U.S. handled diplomatic security before and during the attack on its consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. The ambassador and three other Americans were killed in that attack.

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