* Civilians flee violence by ex-rebel fighters in capital
* Protesters demand government ensure their safety
By Paul-Marin Ngoupana
BANGUI, Aug 28 Thousands of civilians have fled
to the Central African Republic's main international airport to
escape marauding former rebel fighters and have occupied the
tarmac, blocking some flights from landing, witnesses and
Residents of the Boeing quarter adjacent to the capital's
M'poko airport began fleeing their homes on Tuesday night after
Seleka fighters starting shooting up their neighbourhood.
The Central African Republic has descended into chaos since
the rebels swept into Bangui in March, toppling President
Francois Bozize and unleashing a wave of violence that new
leader Michel Djotodia has failed to control.
"There are thousands of people in the airport and on the
tarmac since last night after the Seleka raid," said a senior
officer with a Central African regional peacekeeping mission
based at the airport.
"They came here because they are afraid," he said. The
peacekeepers were forced to intervene to stop Seleka fighters
from entering, he said.
Seleka, a grouping of five rebel movements that Djotodia
used to lead, has repeatedly raided rural villages and Bangui
neighbourhoods under the pretext of searching for weapons caches
and armed Bozize loyalists.
But human rights groups say they are responsible for
widespread looting, torture and summary executions.
French President Francois Hollande called on the U.N.
Security Council and the African Union on Tuesday to stabilise
the situation in the Central African Republic, warning it was at
risk of going the way of Somalia.
Residents of the Boeing neighbourhood said what started as
an evacuation had become a protest against the state of
"Our presence here at the airport has one goal - to get the
world's attention. Because we are fed up with these Seleka,"
said Antoine Gazama.
"We won't leave this airport until Djotodia can ensure our
daily security and that of our children against these
bloodthirsty Selekas," said Jocelyne Yetimbi, who fled to the
airport with her four children.
Speaking on state radio on Wednesday, new security and
public order minister Josue Binoua said the occupation of the
airport had kept several flights, including one run by Morocco's
national carrier Royal Air Maroc, from landing.
He said the situation had forced Djotodia to call an
emergency meeting during which the government decided to ban
Seleka from entering Bangui neighbourhoods.
"Only the forces of order, notably the police and gendarmes,
are authorised to ensure and reestablish order in the country
and particularly in the city of Bangui," Binoua said.
Senior U.N. officials warned earlier this month that the
country was on the brink of collapse and the crisis was
threatening to spread beyond its borders.
They called for the Security Council to fund and support an
African Union peacekeeping force.
(Additional reporting by Ange Aboa in Abidjan; Writing by Joe
Bavier; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)