UN peacekeeper killed, 11 wounded in Central African Republic attack

UN unsure if 21 civilians discovered dead were caught in the fighting

A peacekeeper was killed and 11 others were wounded when a United Nations base came under heavy attack on Tuesday in the Central African Republic, the U.N. spokesman said.

Anti-balaka fighters launched the attack on the temporary U.N. base in Tagbara, near the southern city of Bambari, triggering heavy fighting, said U.N. 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.

U.N. peacekeepers “later discovered the bodies of 21 civilians, including 4 women and 4 children in Tagbara,” he said. It was not immediately clear if the civilians were caught in the fighting.

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

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.

The Anti-balaka militia is a mostly-Christian group that began as a number of local self-defense groups before joining forces in 2012, according to GlobalSecurity. After Bozize was ousted in March 2013, former army members joined the Anti-balaka to fight the Seleka rebels.

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.

The U.N. in November voted to add 900 additional peacekeepers to the mission, known as MINUSCA. It is one of the U.N.’s most dangerous missions with 14 peacekeepers killed last year.

With reporting from AFP

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