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C.Africa mine blast kills peacekeeper: UN

By AFP
Central African Republic Central African Republic.  By  (AFP)
WED, 17 JAN 2024 LISTEN
Central African Republic. By (AFP)

A Cameroonian member of the UN peacekeeping force in northwestern Central African Republic has been killed in a landmine blast and five others wounded, the United Nations said.

The region regularly sees clashes between rebel groups and the CAR army backed by mercenaries from Russia's Wagner group.

Soldiers from Cameroon's contingent of the UN peacekeeping force were escorting a team from the International Organization for Migration on Monday when the device exploded, the MINUSCA mission said in a statement seen by AFP on Wednesday.

It went off as the convoy passed by in the village of Mbindale, 450 kilometres (280 miles) north of the capital Bangui, it added.

Two of the wounded are "seriously" hurt and all were taken to hospital, MINUSCA said.

The explosion happened 20 km from the site of a December 21 massacre of 23 civilians by armed elements of the 3R rebel group.

UN peacekeepers were subsequently deployed to the village of Nzakoudou where the killings took place.

The 3R (Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation) is one of the most powerful of the armed groups and criminal gangs produced by years of civil war that operate in the region.

Civilians are often victims of the conflict, with the United Nations accusing all sides of perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In July, a Rwandan member of the UN peackeeping force was killed by an unidentified armed group in an attack on a UN patrol in eastern CAR.

Since 2022, five MINUSCA soldiers have been killed in the country, according to figures from the organisation.

Wagner mercenaries

Civil war has plagued the CAR since a Muslim-dominated armed coalition called the Seleka ousted former president Francois Bozize in 2013.

He raised his own predominantly Christian and animist militias, known as the anti-Balaka, to try to regain power.

The conflict lost intensity from 2018 but the country still suffers bouts of violence by rebel groups or over its resources, which include gold and diamonds.

French intervention and deployment of UN peacekeepers paved the way for elections in 2016 which Faustin Archange Touadera won.

Two years later, Touadera brought in fighters from Russia's Wagner mercenary group to help train his armed forces.

The conflict lost intensity but the country still suffers bouts of violence by rebel groups or over its resources, which include gold and diamonds.

In 2020, CAR brought in more Russian operatives as rebel groups advanced on the capital and repelled a siege of Bangui.

However, some areas of the country remain outside government control.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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