Dozens killed in fresh clashes in Central African Republic, UN says

At least 25 people were killed in two days of violence around the town of Bambari in the troubled Central African Republic, the UN’s MINUSCA mission said Saturday. Six of the victims were gendarmes.

At least six police and four civilians were killed in an ambush by armed men on Friday morning, the UN said in a statement, while 15 people died Thursday in clashes between a Muslim militia and Christian vigilante groups known as the “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) forces.

The Central African Republic (CAR) plunged into chaos after the March 2013 ousting of longtime president François Bozize, a Christian, by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance. His ouster triggered revenge attacks and a spiral of atrocities in which thousands were slaughtered.

After more than two years of violence that displaced 10 percent of the country’s 4.5 million people, CAR had appeared to be returning to normal, holding peaceful elections earlier this year. But despite 12,000 UN peacekeepers and a few hundred remaining French troops, tensions remain high and tens of thousands of people are still displaced and in need of aid.

Criticism of the UN’s 13,000-strong MINUSCA mission has mounted in recent weeks, with locals accusing the peacekeepers of not doing enough to protect them.

MINUSCA has also been dogged by more than a hundred allegations of sexual abuse, prompting a broad UN inquiry. In 2014, Chadian troops within the mission were also accused of killing 30 civilians in a crowded market, prompting the withdrawal of Chad’s troops.

Earlier in October, 30 people were killed and dozens wounded during an attack on refugees by Seleka forces, although violence in the capital in recent months has been rare.

At the end of this month, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit the capital, Bangui, to wind up the French military mission known as Operation Sangaris, which was launched in December 2013 amid fears of an imminent sectarian bloodbath in the country. Following an earlier withdrawal, only 350 French troops currently remain.

French troops have also been accused of sexually abusing minors in the country. Paris prosecutors opened an investigation into the abuse allegations earlier this year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-10-29

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