Central African Republic rebels clashed with government forces inside the capital on Saturday as they sought to topple President Francois Bozize, prompting France to send in more troops to secure the international airport, reports Reuters.
The Seleka rebel coalition resumed hostilities this week in the mineral-rich former French colony, vowing to oust Bozize whom it accuses of breaking a January peace agreement to integrate its fighters into the army.
A Reuters reporter in the northern suburbs of the riverside capital said the rebels had taken control of the neighborhood around Bozize's private residence, known as PK12. Rebels in civilian clothes had infiltrated other areas, residents said.
Government troops retained control of the city centre, home to the presidential palace.
As darkness fell, no further fighting was reported in the capital, which was left without electricity and water after the Seleka forces - who had seized the nearby town of Boali with its electricity station - turned off the power.
Many residents huddled in darkened homes with no access to radio or television. "We are in complete darkness without any information," said Saint Hardy, an accountant.
Nelson Ndjadder, a spokesman for the rebels, said that his fighters had shot down a military helicopter which had been harrying their columns since Friday and would push onwards to the presidential palace.
Government spokesman Crepin Mboli-Goumba said the government was still in control of the capital. "President Bozize is still in power," he told Reuters.
Read more of this report from Reuters.