Central African Republic rebels take another town after previous pledge to halt advance

Rebels in Central African Republic have taken another town under their control just days after they said they were halting their advance.

Regional official Jean-Baptiste Manikaou says the rebels gained control of Bambari, about 385 kilometers (240 miles) from the capital, over the weekend.

Maxime Andjingbayo, a local priest, says government forces fled Bambari after about two hours of gunfire.

Rebel Col. Djouma Narkoyo called the move preventative action aimed at blocking government forces from preparing a counterattack.

Josue Binoua, a government minister, says if the rebels want peace, they should respect the mediation efforts under way and halt their advance.

The rebels began taking towns earlier this month, saying they wanted to renegotiate past peace deals with the government of this desperately poor African nation.