Extra troops have arrived in Central African Republic to shore up the country’s army after a string of defeats left a Seleka rebel alliance within striking distance of the capital Bangui.
The reinforcements have been provided by Congo as part of a regional peacekeeping force sent by the Economic Community of Central African States.
The rebellion poses the biggest threat yet to President François Bozize’s 10-year rule. He has offered to form a government of unity and to stand down when his term ends in 2016.
However it is an offer that has been rejected by the rebels.
Fighters encamped within 75 km of the capital accuse Bozize of reneging on a 2007 deal to give jobs and money to former rebels.
Residents in Bangui are said to be leaving the city. The European Union has condemned reports of attacks on civilians and called on the rebels and the government to reach a deal.