Killings Flare in Central African Republic as UN Expresses Alarm

  • Rival militiamen clash in southeast region, attack civilians
  • Death toll is reported to have reached more than 200 people

The United Nations’ rights chief expressed alarm over a wave of militia attacks on civilians and peacekeepers in the Central African Republic that may have left hundreds of people dead since March.

In the latest incident, gunmen attacked a UN base and Muslim neighborhood in the southeastern town of Bangassou over the weekend, killing “numerous” civilians and a peacekeeper, the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement on Tuesday. It also cited unverified reports of clashes in the region between so-called anti-balaka fighters and UPC militiamen in early May in which at least 93 civilians may have been killed.

The Central African Republic has been riven by violence since a coalition of mainly Muslim rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in 2013. The UN said investigations by its peacekeeping mission indicate that more than 121 other civilians and six peacekeepers were killed nationwide between March and May. The deaths include many children, some of whom were reportedly thrown into a river by militiamen.

The violence is “spreading to areas of the Central African Republic that had previously been spared the kinds of terrifying violence seen in some other parts of the country,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in the statement. “This is highly worrying and should set off loud alarm bells.”

He also said that more than 45 incidents targeting aid workers were recorded across the nation in the first quarter of the year, making the Central African Republic “one of the highest-risk countries” for aid agencies.

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