The armored vehicle stood at Cameroon’s Garoua-Boulai border crossing, the barrel of its machine gun pointing unmistakably toward the Central African Republic (CAR).
Border police said that they are on maximum alert after rebels attacked a crucial highway in the CAR, blocking hundreds of trucks and prompting an exodus of terrified people into Cameroon.
An alliance of armed groups tried to advance on the CAR capital Bangui ahead of presidential elections on Dec. 27.
The gunmen were swiftly thwarted by UN peacekeepers, CAR troops, and Rwandan and Russian reinforcements.
However, they then switched tactics, trying to strangle Bangui by launching hit-and-run raids on the RN1 Highway, the lifeline linking the city to Cameroon.
Garoua-Boulai, 725km west of Bangui, is a border town of 80,000 people where before the crisis, about 200 trucks rolled across the border each day, laden with essentials for the landlocked CAR’s capital.
The border point has become a parking lot — more than 400 trucks are stacked up, waiting to cross.
A couple of weeks ago, some truckers ventured over, but swiftly turned back because of the poor security.
“The border is now closed,” a senior police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Soldiers from the elite Rapid Intervention Brigade have taken up a position at the edge of the border perimeter to tackle any rebel incursion.
In the town, police have stepped up patrols and identity checks in the streets — even in hotels and bars — and take away people unable to produce identification documents.
The attacks on CAR’s supply backbone are the latest crisis to roil a country that ranks second-poorest in the world, and has seen little but bloodshed and misery since a coup seven years ago.
About two-thirds of the country is in the hands of armed groups that sprang up in the turmoil in 2013.
So far, there have been no shortages in Bangui, but the effects of a de facto blockade is starting to be felt in higher prices for certain foods, and supermarkets and wholesalers have said that their inventories are starting to dwindle.
In Garoua-Boulai, hundreds of trucks are parked on the roadside, and hundreds more on land in front of a government building.
Nickson, a young Cameroonian “moto-boy,” or assistant driver, was lying on a sheet under his truck, his face barely lit by his mobile phone.
“I’ve been sleeping here for 21 days,” he said. “It gets cold at night and we don’t have much to eat.”
Gabin, a 22-year-old assistant driver from the CAR, blew on a fire to warm up a pot of food. He was cooking for a group of 44 drivers and their assistants.
Some of the drivers had come very far. They included 17 truckers hauling fuel from Chad — a trip of 1,000km — and heading for Bangui.
“It’s impossible — they have to make the road secure,” said one of them, Abdel Habid.
Just a few weeks ago, hundreds of CAR residents in a nearby refugee camp crossed the border post each day to return home.
These days, the flow has been reversed, as their compatriots seek the haven of Cameroon.
Four thousand have crossed, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights data showed.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to
Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Thursday resigned following a protest over a hospital’s treatment of a new mother who tested positive for COVID-19. Khurelsukh, whose Mongolian People’s Party holds a strong majority in the parliament known as the State Great Khural, stepped down after accusing Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of the Democratic Party of orchestrating a political crisis. A small protest broke out in the capital, Ulan Bator, on Wednesday after TV footage appeared of a woman who had just given birth being escorted in slippers and a thin robe from the maternity ward to a special wing for COVID-19 patients