A U.N. peacekeeper from Tanzania was killed and seven others wounded when their patrol was ambushed by gunmen in the Central African Republic, U.N. officials said Monday, June 4.
The spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric said gunmen believed to be from a militia known as Siriri attacked the U.N. patrol on Sunday in the village of Dilapoko in the Mambere-Kadei prefecture in southwestern CAR.
One of the wounded peacekeepers is in critical condition at a Bangui hospital while three others were seriously wounded, he added.
Three other peacekeepers from the Minusca mission are being treated in the local town of Berberati.
The southwest of the Central African Republic – which is mainly controlled by anti-balaka mititia – has been spared much of the violence that has ravaged the country since 2013.
On April 22, four people were killed in clashes between U.N. peacekeepers and an armed group in village of Nassole, also in Mambere-Kadei prefecture. One local source told AFP that the head of the group known as Siriri was among those killed.
It is unclear if the Siriri group in Mambere-Kadei is an anti-balaka militia that has existed since 2013, or a splinter group of the Mouvement Patriotique Centrafricain ex-Seleka militia which was formed in 2017.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned Sunday’s attack, which brings to four the number of peacekeepers killed in the Central African Republic this year.
In the most recent deadly incident on May 17, a Mauritanian peacekeeper was killed and eight others injured in an attack on a U.N. convoy south of Alindao in the northeast of the country.
On April 2, a temporary U.N. base in nearby Tagbara came under heavy attack from anti-balaka militia. One U.N. peacekeeper from Mauritania was killed and 11 others were wounded and more than 22 anti-balaka fighters were killed. A week later, a Rwandan peacekeeper was killed and eight others wounded in clashes with armed groups in the PK5 neighbourhood of Bangui, the country’s capital.
According to a February report to the U.N. Security Council, Minusca has deployed 10,665 military personnel, 90 percent of the total authorized strength of 11,650, as well as 2,044 police and 1,390 civilians.
The U.N. is seeking 900 extra troops to bolster Minusca, which the Security Council authorized in November.
On April 23, President Faustin Archange Touadera said he wants to “accelerate” the disarmament of members of armed groups in Central African Republic, calling for more peacekeepers to be deployed, and for the U.N.’s Minusca mission to transition from peacekeeping to peace enforcement.
President Touadera’s weak government controls around a fifth of the Central African Republic and relies heavily on Minusca for support. The rest is controlled by at least 14 different militia groups – the mainly Christian anti-Balaka in the southwest and mainly Muslim ex-Seleka in the northeast – who often fight each other for control of revenue from extortion, roadblocks or mineral resources.
With reporting from AFP