One peacekeeper, 22 fighters killed in C. Africa: UN

UN peacekeepers from Cameroon deployed to the Central African Republic stand guard during an inspection in the northwesten village of Bedaya in January 2018

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – A peacekeeper was killed and 11 others wounded when a UN base came under heavy attack on Tuesday in the Central African Republic in fighting that also left 22 rebels dead, the UN said.

Anti-balaka fighters launched the attack early Tuesday on the temporary UN base in Tagbara, near the southern city of Bambari, triggering heavy fighting, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

“Peacekeepers fired back and after several hours of exchange of fire, one peacekeeper was killed and 11 others were injured,” said Dujarric.

The UN mission MINUSCA said separately that 22 anti-balaka fighters were killed. 

UN peacekeepers “later discovered the bodies of 21 civilians, including 4 women and 4 children in Tagbara,” said Dujarric. 

MINUSCA said the bodies were found near a church, and that the deaths resulted from a separate incident using “traditional weapons.”

Reinforcements have been sent to Tagbara, which lies 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of Bambari.

On Monday, UN peacekeepers negotiated the release of 23 civilians including 13 women and three children from an ex-Seleka rebel group, and the group was allowed to shelter in safety overnight at the base in Tagbara.

The CAR has been struggling to return to stability since the country exploded into bloodshed after the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance.

France intervened militarily to push out the Seleka alliance, but the country — one of the poorest in the world — remains plagued by violence between ex-rebels and vigilante militias.