On this day September 20, 1979

A coup d’état in the Central African Empire overthrows Emperor Bokasa I, born Jean-Bédel Bokassa 22 February 1921 – 3 November 1996), also known as Bokassa I of Central Africa and Salah Eddine Ahmed Bokassa, was the military ruler of the Central African Republic from 1 January 1966 and the Emperor of the Central African Empire from December 4, 1976, until he was overthrown on 20 September 1979.

Bokassa’s overthrow by the French government was called “France’s last colonial expedition” (“la dernière expédition coloniale française”) by veteran French diplomat Jacques Foccart. Operation Barracuda began the night of 20 September and ended early the next morning.

An undercover commando squad from the French intelligence agency SDECE (now DGSE), joined by Special Forces’ 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, or 1er RPIMa, led by Colonel Brancion-Rouge, landed by Transall and managed to secure the Bangui Mpoko airport.

Upon arrival of two more transport aircraft, a message was sent to Colonel Degenne to come in with his Barracudas (codename for eight Puma helicopters and Transall aircraft), which took off from N’Djamena military airport in neighbouring Chad.


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