This is Good E. Tewshooze reporting for the BBC on the conflict raging in the Middle African Republic. As our viewers will recall, the problem arose several months ago when the government of the country implemented policies seen as oppressive by an eccentric splinter group, the Moslems for Jesus (MFJ). That minority was in possession of the richest farmland in the country, and their leader, the Mahdi, declared the independence of their region.
The national army was in no condition to move on the breakaway region but the President of the MAR had another solution ready to hand. For some time he had been in negotiations with the HAWGs (Honorable Association of White Guys), a group of white South African farmers interested in resettling as a community in the MAR. The President agreed to sign over the lands of the Moslem rebels to the HAWGs if the immigrants could capture the land from the current owners and live there as loyal citizens of the MAR.
"Mad Mike", Commandant of the HAWGs plans his campaign
On arrival the HAWGs were issued what military equipment the government could spare; A pair of rusty M48 tanks, an ancient DC3 transport plane, three Panhard armored cars with big guns, assorted jeeps and trucks and small arms. Within a few weeks the newcomers had this motley assortment of weapons in working condition and were ready to move. Their force was organized into 5 companies, Tanks, Panhards, Jeeps with MG, and two infantry. The DC3 was equipped with homemade high explosive barrel bombs.
The defenders of the northern hamlet prepare for action
The Mahdi knew of the government plan and he had not been idle. Those of his people with military training were organized into an infantry company with truck transport. The rest of the male population was organized into four militia companies of infantry, each supported by a technical with AA gun and another with a heavy machine gun.
The Mahdi commands his forces from the central hamlet
The stage was set, the U.N. talked and did nothing. The MAR was of no strategic interest to any of the Great Powers, and so the tragedy played out. At dawn on the 6th of August the HAWGs advance elements of Panhards and infantry moved into MFJ territory. This part of the valley was watered by a pair of rivers, very low at this season. Three hamlets and the MFJ training camp were the major points of interest. Three MFJ militia companies were stationed there, one in the northern hamlet, one in the hamlet in the center of the valley and one in the military camp in the south.
Fort Zinderneuf, the MFJ training camp
The Panhards started shelling the northern hamlet and soon, what sounded like a flying washing machine but was, in fact, the DC3, appeared overhead and dropped a barrel bomb on the defenders. This was all too much for the defenders who started falling back in some disorder toward the central hamlet.
The militia flees the northern hamlet
The HAWG tanks followed on, rolling down the road toward the northern hamlet. Our BBC news crew, determined to expose the use by the central government of these mercenaries, blocked the advancing Panhards and exposed the unit commander to a scathing interview. This allowed the retreating militia to escape, but sadly the unit disintegrated during the retreat and was out of the fight.
Courageous journalists, armed only with cameras confront the HAWGs
The trio of HAWG armed jeeps entered the fray to the East and passed through the eastern hamlet without opposition. At the same time the BBC news crew had moved onto the road between the advancing HAWG tanks and the northern hamlet and brought the tanks to a halt with another withering expose’. The Panhards on the left were slowed to a crawl as they found themselves in a mine field. For the rest of the battle they proceeded with great caution to avoid losing any vehicles.
The HAWG armed jeeps crossed to the southern bank of the river and encountered MFJ Regulars and militia advancing from the East. A savage firefight ensued in which the HAWGs lost two of their three vehicles but caused so many casualties among the MFJ that they, as well as the HAWGs were rendered combat ineffective. One of the HAWG infantry units, led by Mad Mike, was able to cross the river in this part of the field and helped to see off the remnants of the two MFJ units that had engaged the jeeps.
Hawgs force the river crossing against heavy opposition
The DC3 made a pass over the central hamlet where the Mahdi was posted and dropped a barrel bomb on the militia unit there. At the same time the Panhards had managed (in spite of the mine field) to get into position to open fire on the central village. The commander of the HAWG tanks had finally abruptly ended the BBC interference with his mission and was advancing on the central hamlet. All of this was too much for the garrison, which withdrew in disorder to the south, toward the military camp. The garrison of the camp began moving up the road toward the fighting. The last of the HAWG units occupied the northern hamlet. The Mahdi surveyed the wreckage of his army and decided to withdraw from the field to reorganize, rearm and fight another day.
The stricken field