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Fresh clashes in CAR threaten fragile peace

October 15, 2016

The Central African Republic is on edge after a series of violent events in recent weeks threaten to tip the country back into conflict. Renewed violence comes as French troops are to leave later this month.

Gewalt in der Zentralafrikanischen Republik
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/D. Belluz

At least 11 people were killed and another 10 wounded at an internally displaced persons camp in Central African Republic, the UN's MINUSCA mission said on Saturday, as tensions in the country threaten a renewed bout of sectarian violence.

The attack on the refugee camp comes just days after 30 people died and another 57 wounded after the mainly Muslim militia group Seleka attacked civilians, NGO offices and fought with UN peacekeepers in the central town of Kaga Bandoro. UN peacekeepers intervened to protect civilians, killing 12 attackers, who were apparently out to retaliate for the death of one of their members. 

MINUSCA said it was unclear who was behind Saturday's attack in Ngakobo, 300 kilometers (180 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui, but peacekeepers "immediately took measures to reinforce its position around the displaced camp and to step up its patrols."

Gewalt in der Zentralafrikanischen Republik
Hundreds of refugees sought shelter with the UN in Kaga BandoroImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/D. Belluz

Last week, at least a dozen people were killed in the capital in fighting after a top army commander was killed while traveling through a Muslim neighborhood.

The fresh violence threatens to throw CAR back into a dangerous spiral of atrocities after a relative period of calm following February elections that brought to power President Faustin Touadera, whose government maintains a tenuous hold on security and relies on the UN.

CAR descended into two years of bloodshed in 2013 after the Seleka rebel alliance ousted President Francois Bozize, a Christian. 

What followed was an outburst of tit-for-tat violence and sectarian atrocities that left thousands dead and one in 10 of the country's 4.5 million people displaced.

Nearly 12,000 UN peacekeepers, alongside 2,500 French troops deployed in late 2013, helped to put an end to the violence and bring some stability to the country.

But the latest outburst of violence comes as France prepares to pull most of its last remaining 350 troops out at the end of the month.

Tens of thousand of people still remain displaced and dependent on aid, and any new bout of violence could threaten the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide for those in need ahead of a donors' conference in Brussels on November 17.

cw/jlw (AFP, dpa)