A Senior UN Official said armed groups on Monday agreed to allow for the evacuation of some civilians from a mosque in Central African Republic’s (CAR) southeastern town of Bangassou after two days of fighting.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR, Najat Rochdi, said around 1000 people in the town had sought refuge from attacks inside and then found themselves trapped there by the militias.
She added that as of late morning, women and children as well as the injured and dead had left but an unknown number of men were still held hostage inside.
Rochdi said a total of 26 bodies have so far been identified in the town and are being recovered by aid workers.
NAN reporta that on Saturday, the UN peacekeeping force in the CAR sent reinforcement to Bangassou, where an armed group opened fire on civilians overnight killing an undisclosed number and at least one UN peacekeeper.
The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), said in a statement that the armed elements continue to systematically and deliberately attack the MINUSCA base with heavy weaponry to impede the peacekeepers from doing their extremely vital task of protecting the civilian population.
The Mission said that members of a wide coalition, including anti-Balaka elements attacked civilian populations overnight, targeting in particular Muslims, in the Tokoyo neighborhood of Bangassou.
Inspite of heavy fire against MINUSCA’s field office, peacekeepers attempted to respond to the attack in Tokoyo to protect civilians.
In the firefight, which continued into the morning of 13 May, one peacekeeper of the Moroccan contingent died from gunshot injuries,” the Mission said.
According to preliminary information, displaced civilians have fled to the mosque, the catholic church and a hospital.
The attack came just hours after the UN held a memorial ceremony to honour five peacekeepers killed on May 8, in a nearby village of Yogofongo.
People connected with the anti-Balaka group are also suspected in the attack.(Reuters/NAN)