BEBOURA II, Central African Republic -- Mayor Emmanuel Lockoulet has not registered a birth for more than a year, since fellow villagers in his remote northwest corner of Central African Republic fled attacks by government soldiers.

In a battered pocketbook he has noted the dates he says soldiers killed civilians, or torched the straw roofs of their mud huts, because they were suspected of helping anti-government rebels.

"In January 2006 the people went to the bush because of the threats by these soldiers," Lockoulet said. "On April 5 they killed one person. On September 30 they killed another. On October 2 they came and burned."

Scores of villages have been destroyed or abandoned in more than a year of violence in this part of the deeply poor country, where insecurity has been made worse in recent months by a new rebel front to the east, near the border with Sudan's Darfur region.

Ragged villagers emerging from the bush to speak to aid workers and journalists said members of Central African Republic President Francois Bozize's own guard had razed many villages.

In Beboura II, most of the dozens of houses have been burned in successive raids. People came here on a recent day only in the hope of having their children vaccinated by passing aid workers.

Hearing vehicles approaching, most of the group of women and children ran away between the charred ruins, returning only when they saw that the cars brought not soldiers but human rights researchers documenting abuses.

Villagers in this region, a 10-hour drive from the capital Bangui mostly on dirt roads, say they run the gantlet of possible attacks by Bozize's presidential guard, the army, rebels, armed bandits, and gunmen from neighboring Chad.

The United Nations estimates that 220,000 people have been forced from their homes since the latest violence began in 2005.

Bertin Wafio, who described himself as a commander of the rebel Popular Army for the Reconstruction of the Republic and Democracy (APRD), said he took up arms against Bozize in 2005 over "bad governance, rigged elections, killings and impunity."

Wafio said the APRD had 975 fighters in the area, the youngest age 14. He did not recruit the boys, he said, calling himself a former science teacher. They joined up voluntarily, he said.

Talking outside an abandoned school to journalists and Hollywood star Mia Farrow, who was touring the country as goodwill ambassador for the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, Wafio said he could not disclose who was leading the APRD.

He said the movement included soldiers who served under President Ange-Félix Patassé, whom Bozize ousted in March 2003, before going on to be elected president in 2005.

But Wafio said Abdoulaye Miskine, one of Patassé's former guards who signed a peace deal with Bozize's government in Libya this month, had no link with either the APRD or another group of rebels, the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), who captured the northeastern town of Birao last October.

In signing peace deals with Miskine and the UFDR, Bozize's government hoped to clear the way for a U.N. peacekeeping force to secure the border with Darfur.

French special forces, fighter jets and helicopters helped dislodge the UFDR fighters in the northeast in December.

But while the government in Bangui says it wants peace, its forces have continued to destroy villages in recent weeks.

Aid workers in the northwest town of Paoua say pro-government forces burned villages around Pende, nine miles to the west, on Jan. 23, after rebels attacked Paoua in mid-January, prompting thousands of people to flee.

Residents and traders are drifting back to the dilapidated town, but basic foodstuffs are in short supply.