Central African Republic (CAR) forces and allies from the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) drove a CAR rebel group from the city of Bossangoa. However, a spokesman for a rebel group loyal to exiled rebel leader General Francois Bozize described the rebels withdrawal from the city as a tactical retreat. Bossangoa is Bozizes hometown. A rebel force occupied Bossangoa in late November 2002. The CAR government began gathering troops for a counter-attack in January. Around February 10, the CAR forces and its allies began moving toward Bossangoa, retaking the towns of Sibut, Bozoum, and Kaga Bandoro. Allegedly, Rwandan mercenaries were also recruited to fight with the MLC contingent. This is another example of close military cooperation between the MLC and the CAR government. Several sources suggest the MLC had from 1500 to 2000 troops in the CAR. A subsequent report that included an acknowledgment from an MLC leader that 1500 MLC fighters remained in the CAR but would be withdrawn (presumably back to the DRC). However, rebel sources maintain that MLC fighters are part of a CAR government force preparing to attack the town of Bouar (northeastern CAR).