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Africa

Clashes in Central African Republic leaves scores dead

Twenty-five people have been killed following two days of violence around the central town of Bambari. The UN warns of a "rise in tension in certain regions" of the Central African Republic.

The UN force MINUSCA said Saturday that increasingly frequent bouts of deadly violence between rival sectarian militias claimed at least 25 lives in around 48 hours. 

"Six gendarmes and four civilians lost their lives on Friday morning in an ambush on the Bambari-Grimari road," MINUSCA said in a statement on Saturday. "The day before, clashes between elements of the anti-balaka and ex-Seleka [militias] caused 15 deaths and a number of wounded." 

CAR's descent into sectarian bloodshed began after the March 2013 ouster of President Francois Bozize, a Christian, by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance. This in turn triggered a cycle of revenge attacks between Christian and Muslim groups in which thousands were slaughtered and around a tenth of the population of 4.5 million were displaced.

MINUSCA, a UN stabilization force, said six police and four civilians were killed in an ambush by armed men Friday morning, while on Thursday, 15 people died in fighting on the town's outskirts between Seleka militia and Christian vigilante groups; a separate incident in which UN peacekeepers were attacked near the Bambari airport left a 7-year-old child injured.

The UN seeks to support the administration of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was elected in February.

Earlier this month, 30 people were killed and 57 wounded when Seleka fighters staged an attack in the central town of Kaga Bandoro. Days later 11 people were shot dead in a camp for displaced people in Ngakobo, northeast of Bangui.

Adding to the strife, MINUSCA has been dogged by dozens of allegations of sexual abuse,prompting a broad UN inquiry. Criticism of the 13,000-strong mission has mounted in recent weeks with local civilians accusing peacekeepers of not doing enough to protect them.

jar/jlw (AFP, AP, Reuters)