Portuguese paratroopers faced off with a rebel militia in the Central African Republic earlier this month in a major operation that included 50 hours of combat and the seizure of the militants’ base.
Footage of the incident, provided to Euronews by the Portuguese armed forces, shows how the battle unfolded between the paratroopers, operating under the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission, and members of the rebel UPC (Union for Peace in the Central African Republic) earlier this month.
The UPC is a former member of the Seleka rebel alliance, a coalition of mainly Muslim groups that seized power in the majority Christian CAR in 2013, plunging the country into turmoil.
The battle with the Portuguese paratroopers on January 10 began after the UPC launched a violent attack on the town of Bambari, some 400 kilometres from the capital Bangui, in a bid to seize resources and extort the local population by collecting taxes.
“The offensive by this armed group was carried out with heavy weaponry… placing civilians in the crossfire", Portugal’s Armed Forces General Staff said in a statement.
The armed forces said the Portuguese paratroopers got involved in the hope of "protecting civilians and restoring peace”.
Following the action, the paratroopers on January 12 and 13 turned their attention to the UPC’s base in Bokolobo.
On their way to the area, the footage captured an attempted ambush on the UN forces by the UPC.
In Bokolobo, the two sides engaged in further fighting before the Portuguese paratroopers destroyed the UPC’s headquarters, checkpoints and barricades, and seized a number of weapons, in scenes captured on camera.
The Portuguese armed forces declared the operation a success, saying there were no casualties on their side.
Long-awaited African Union-brokered peace talks between armed groups and the government of President Faustin-Archange Touadera are scheduled to take place on January 24.
You can watch the operation by clicking on the player above.