16 dead, thousands displaced in CAR clashes
At least 16 people have lost their lives and thousands of civilians have been displaced in the Central African Republic (CAR) during recent clashes between rival armed groups in the country, the United Nations (UN) says.
The UN’s peacekeeping mission in the CAR, MINUSCA, made the announcement on Wednesday, adding that the latest round of violence had erupted two days earlier between rival factions of the Seleka rebel group in the town of Bria, some 400 kilometers northeast of the capital, Bangui.
The fighting was said to have broken out between the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic (FPRC) and the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC).
The two factions have been engaged in sporadic fighting over control of taxes levied on nomadic Fulani herdsman during the current seasonal migration.
In March 2013, the Central African Republic plunged into chaos when then-President Francois Bozize was toppled by the mainly Seleka rebel alliance and was replaced by Michel Am-Nondokro Djotodia, the first Muslim to hold the presidency in the mainly Christian country.
The coup, however, sparked a series of deadly retaliatory attacks between the Seleka rebels and Christian militia known as anti-balaka, who reacted by engaging in full-scale attacks against the minority Muslims.
One in 10 of the country’s 4.5 million people was forced to flee to safer regions as the impoverished nation plunged into violence along ethnic and religious fault lines. Thousands of people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the resource-rich country, as it suffered its biggest crisis in its half-century of independence during the period of violence in 2013 and 2014.
In 2014, some 11,000 peacekeepers were deployed by the UN to the country as part of MINUSCA, or the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.
On July 23, 2014, Seleka and anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville, but the country has not yet fully emerged from its bloody past.