UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Unidentified gunmen attacked a UN peacekeeping patrol in the Central African Republic on Monday, killing a Rwandan peacekeeper, the UN said.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said initial reports said the UN patrol counterattacked, killing three of the attackers.
Dujarric said the attack took place while peacekeepers were patrolling around the town of Sam Huangja in the eastern Central African Republic’s Orcott department.
He said peacekeepers were dispatched to Sam Uanja last week in response to an attack on the town by militants, but the militants fled after the peacekeepers intervened. He said the UN mission had expanded the security perimeter around the town over the past five days to protect the community and help deliver aid.
Head of the UN delegation, Valentine Lugwabiza, strongly condemned the attack. Dujarric said the peacekeepers will remain in Sam Uanja and are coordinating with the authorities to deploy troops to the area.
The mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic has faced deadly inter-regional fighting since 2013 when the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced President François Bozezet to resign. The militia, mostly Christians, then counterattacked, also targeting civilians in the streets. Countless people were killed and most of the capital’s Muslims fled in fear.
The UN peacekeeping operation, known as MINUSCA, was deployed in 2014 and currently has nearly 17,500 uniformed personnel in the country. That mission was extended for 12 months until November.
After the Constitutional Court rejected Mr Bozizé’s candidacy for the December 2020 presidential election, President Faustin-Arcane Touadella won a second term with 53% of the vote. However, he continues to face opposition from a rebel coalition linked to Bozizé.
Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, who led a brief uprising in Russia last month, have helped keep the Tuadera in power. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the state-run RT television network after the uprising that hundreds of Russian fighters would remain in the Central African Republic.