Monday, March 19, 2018
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Anti-balaka ambush in CAR kills two UN peacekeepers

Violence prompts many humanitarian groups to suspend activities in the Central African Republic city of Bangassou.

Suspected Christian fighters killed two Moroccan peacekeepers from the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic on Tuesday, the mission said, in the second deadly attack on Moroccan forces this week.

The peacekeepers were ambushed by suspected Anti-balaka fighters in the town of Banagassou, 700 kilometres east of the capital Bangui, as they stocked up on water to deliver to the population, the mission said in a statement.

Thousands have died in an ethnic and religious conflict that broke out when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian Anti-balaka armed groups.

Tuesday's raid, which injured a third soldier, followed similar attacks by suspected Anti-balaka fighters in the diamond-mining town in recent days, including one on Sunday that killed a Moroccan peacekeeper and left three others wounded.

On Friday, a patrol of peacekeepers was shot at and one of the attackers killed, a MINUSCA peacekeeping mission spokesman told AFP news agency, again blaming pro-Christian fighters.

Six peacekeepers were killed in Bangassou in May.

The violence has prompted several humanitarian organisations to suspend their activities in Bangassou, where fighting in May killed at least 115 people.

It also points to the inability of the 13,000-strong UN force to contain violence in a country where government control barely extends outside the capital.

"I am shocked by these new losses of human life, and I firmly condemn this flagrant violation of the right to life and of international law," mission chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga said in the statement.

Violence has escalated in the Central African Republic since former colonial power France ended its peacekeeping mission in the country last year and despite a peace deal signed between the government and rival factions in Rome last month.

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