Rebels have managed to breach the outskirts and are now fighting running battles with army in the Central African Republic, known for its coups and counter coups.
Central African Republic rebels have entered the northern suburbs of the capital Bangui where they are fighting running battles with government troops, rebels and government officials said.
Nelson Ndjadder, a spokesman for the Seleka rebel coalition, confirmed on Saturday that his fighters had entered the capital.
He also said they had shot down a government military helicopter which had been attacking their forces since Friday.
The Seleka rebels resumed hostilities this week in the mineral-rich former French colony, vowing to topple
President Francois Bozize whom it accuses of breaking a January peace agreement to integrate its fighters into the army
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Bangui, Central African Republic’s Deputy Prime Minister Parfait Mbaye, said the rebel advance “should be condemned by the African union”.
“The coup d’etat attempt by Seleka rebels is still ongoing. Fighting is now taking place on the outskirts of Bangui. We can only condemn this attempt to take power by force… We are very sorry to see what is happening in our country.”
A senior official with a regional peacekeeping force, who asked not to be identified, also said rebels were fighting government troops inside Bangui and had shot down the attack helicopter.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Bangui, Sylvain Groulx of Doctors without Borders, said the fighting has not yet reached to centre of the capital.
“We are about two-to-three kilometres from the centre of Bangui and we cannot hear any shooting but we have heard the same information that a group of rebels has entered the capital,” Groulx said.
“There has been some fighting in different places in and around Bangui throughout the day,” Groulx added.
“It seems that the rebels have taken control of a town called bouali where there is a hydro-electric dam, the main power source for Bangui. All the power in the capital was cut. The hospitals we are supporting have been provided with fuel for generators.”