Nine fighters from an armed group that launched a week-long attack last week in south-eastern Central African Republic have been arrested.
The assailants belong to a branch of the CAR’s biggest armed group, the Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC), the country’s special criminal court said in a statement on Monday.
The court is responsible for trying cases of serious human rights violations in the country, which has been ravaged by conflict for more than 20 years. The UPC has committed “widespread and systematic attacks on the civilian population,” the court said.
During the attacks on the town of Obo last week, government forces backed by U.N. troops killed around 10 fighters from the rebel militia and captured others, a government spokesman had told AFP.
Led by a mercenary named Ali Darassa, the UPC has been campaigning for months to extend its grip in the southeast, at the crossroads of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
The UPC is one of myriad armed groups that have controlled most of the CAR since the country plunged into violence in 2013.
A few months away from high-risk presidential elections due in December, the CAR continues to be plagued by militia attacks despite a peace agreement signed between the government and 14 armed groups, including the UPC, in February 2019.
In late April, 28 people — including at least 21 civilians — were killed in Ndele in the north-east in clashes between two factions from the same armed group.
Following the killings, the country’s special criminal court announced that it had opened an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity. Created in 2015 and inaugurated in 2018, the court is responsible for judging serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in the Central African Republic since 2003.
It is composed of national and international judges and supported by the European Union and the United Nations.