A Mauritanian peacekeeper was killed and eight others injured in an attack on a U.N. convoy south of Alindao in the Central African Republic, the U.N. mission said.
Five of the injured are in a serious condition, Minusca said in a Thursday, May 17 release.
The peacekeepers were escorting a Minusca logistics convoy from Kongbo when they were ambushed around 28 km (17 miles) south of Alindao by suspected anti-Balaka militants.
There were unconfirmed reports on Thursday of attacks by anti-Balaka militia members in nearby Bambari, a day after Minuca said it had retaken control of the town following two days of violence that left eight people dead.
The U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Central African Republic, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, strongly condemned the attack.
“Why attack peacekeepers whose presence on the soil of the Central African Republic has no other purpose than to help the country get out of the spiral of violence and contribute to the return of peace and stability in the Central African Republic?”, Onanga-Anyanga said, adding that any attack on the life of a peacekeeper could be considered a war crime.
Three Minusca peacekeepers have been killed so far this year and more than 40 wounded.
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 had 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.
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.