HomeTop StoriesArmed group kills peacekeeper in Central African Republic, UN says

Armed group kills peacekeeper in Central African Republic, UN says

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An unidentified armed group on Monday attacked a UN peacekeeper in the Central African Republic, killing a peacekeeper from Rwanda, the United Nations said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said initial reports indicated that the UN patrol returned fire, killing three of the attackers.

The attack occurred as peacekeepers provided a protective presence around the town of Sam-Ouandja, in the eastern Central African Republic’s Haute Kotto prefecture, Dujarric said.

Peacekeepers were sent to Sam-Ouandja last week in response to an attack on the town by an armed group, which fled after peacekeepers intervened, he said. He said the UN mission had expanded the security perimeter around the city over the past five days to protect the community and support relief supplies.

Valentine Rugwabiza, head of the UN mission, strongly condemned the attack. She said peacekeepers will remain in Sam-Ouandja and the mission is working with authorities to send national troops to the area, Dujarric said.

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The mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic has faced deadly intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced President François Bozize from office. Usually, Christian militias later fought back, also targeting civilians in the streets. Countless thousands were killed and most of the capital’s Muslims fled.

A UN peacekeeping mission known as MINUSCA was deployed in 2014 and now has nearly 17,500 uniformed personnel in the country. The mandate was extended by 12 months until November.

After the constitutional court rejected Bozize’s candidacy to run for president in December 2020, President Faustin-Archange Touadera won a second term with 53% of the vote. But he continues to face opposition from a rebel coalition with ties to Bozize.

Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, whose leader led a short-lived mutiny in Russia last month, have helped keep Touadera in power. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the state-run RT television network after the mutiny that hundreds of Russian fighters would remain in the Central African Republic.

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