A Burundian peacekeeper killed in an ambush in the Central African Republic
A Burundian peacekeeper was killed Thursday in an ambush in the Central African Republic, the UN Minusca mission announced on Friday August 24.
The latest deadly attack brings the number of peacekeepers killed in CAR this year to six, and comes just days before armed groups are due to discuss a list of demands with an African Union panel that aims to negotiate the peace.
The ambush, believed to have been carried out by anti-Balaka militants, occurred on Thursday evening in Pavika, a village about 22 kilometers (14 miles) from the town of Alindao in the center of the country, the police said. Minusca in a press release.
Armed men “attacked Minusca personnel who were providing security for a truck belonging to a mission subcontractor,” the statement said.
“The blue helmets of the [Minusca] The Force’s advanced military post in Pavika was sent as reinforcements around 8:20 p.m. and they were ambushed by another anti-Balaka group en route,” Minusca said. “During the exchange of fire, a blue helmet was mortally wounded.”
Minusca said peacekeepers fought back and the perpetrators were “buried”.
Thursday’s incident is the second deadly attack on peacekeepers in the Alindao region in recent months. On May 17, a Mauritanian peacekeeper was killed and eight others injured in an attack on a UN convoy south of Alindao, also blamed on anti-Balaka militants.
Armed groups present claims
This week, the media reported that armed groups in the CAR will present dozens of demands to an African Union group of experts seeking to broker peace in the country. On August 27, the armed groups will seek to “harmonise” their demands in meetings with the AU panel before submitting a final list to the government.
RJDH said the list includes 12 “non-negotiable” demands, including the development of a national dialogue that will lead to constitutional change and a way for armed groups to transform themselves into political organisations. They also want a revision of military agreements with Russia and South Africa, and a general amnesty for combatants.
Five human rights organizations have united to oppose an amnesty for armed groups which they say “would be incompatible with the government’s duty to bring to justice those responsible for grave international crimes”.
“The armed groups at the negotiating table are believed to have committed numerous serious abuses against civilians, such as murder, rape, sexual slavery, torture, looting, persecution and destruction of religious buildings,” they said.
Attacks across CAR
According to AFP, there have been a number of attacks on peacekeepers over the past week. On August 18, three peacekeepers were injured in an anti-Balaka attack in Mbres in the center of the country, and two days later, peacekeepers were shot at by members of the ex-Seleka FPRC group in Bria, in the east.
The most recent deadly attack on peacekeepers dates back to June 12, when another Burundian peacekeeper was killed in clashes in Bambari and a second peacekeeper seriously injured in an incident attributed to the armed group ex-Seleka the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC).
In another incident in Bambari on the same day, two Central African soldiers and a Russian adviser were injured in an attack also attributed to the UPC.
Russian advisers work with the Central African army and provide security and advise President Faustin-Archange Touadera. Further strengthening their ties, Russia and the Central African Republic signed a military cooperation agreement on August 21. military institutes.
The pact was signed three weeks after three Russian journalists were murdered near Sibut in late July. The journalists were in CAR to investigate Wagner, a group of shadowy Russian private military contractors, and his possible relationship with the government and armed groups.
Central African authorities and Russia have called the motive for the mystery killings a robbery, but Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who funded the investigation, said that argument “does not stand up to scrutiny”.
Read more: Does the killing of 3 journalists in the Central African Republic reveal Russia’s “raid, seize and exploit” strategy?
A country in crisis
Despite rich reserves of diamonds, gold and uranium, the Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world. The predominantly Christian country descended into violence after the Seleka coalition ousted Muslim-majority rebel groups of President François Bozizé in 2013. A former general, Bozizé himself seized power in a coup State in 2003.
The Seleka was officially disbanded within months, but many fighters refused to disarm, becoming known as ex-Seleka. Many others joined the mainly Christian anti-Balaka militia to fight the Seleka, leading to a spiral of violence between groups along both religious and ethnic lines.
By the end of 2014, the country was de facto divided – anti-Balaka in the southwest and ex-Seleka in the northeast.
Violence on both sides has claimed thousands of lives. Nearly 700,000 people are displaced, 570,000 have fled the country and 2.5 million are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.
Touadera’s weak government controls about a fifth of the country and relies heavily on the UN peacekeeping mission, Minusca, for support. The rest are controlled by at least 14 different militias who often fight for control of revenues from extortion, roadblocks or mineral resources.
In April, Touadera called for more peacekeepers to be deployed and for Minusca’s mission to shift from peacekeeping to peace enforcement. He also said he wanted to “accelerate” the disarmament of members of armed groups.
With information from AFP