Mostly Christian militia fighters on Tuesday attacked a UN peacekeeping base in the Central African Republic with one peacekeeper from Mauritania killed and 11 others injured in a battle that lasted several hours, the UN said.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the attack by the anti-Balaka militias took place at a temporary UN peacekeeping base in Tagbara, about 100km northeast of the central mining town of Bambari.
The peacekeeping mission said more than 22 anti-Balaka fighters died in the clash.
Dujarric said the UN peacekeeping mission sent reinforcements to the base and he strongly condemned the attack.
The UN Security Council condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” and reiterated that attacks against peacekeepers could constitute war crimes.
Its members called on the Central African Republic to swiftly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Separately, Dujarric said the UN mission reported that later on Tuesday peacekeepers discovered the bodies of 21 civilians, including four women and four children, in Tagbara.
The mission said the bodies were found near a church and the victims had been killed with “traditional weapons.”
The UN Security Council said it supports an investigation by the UN peacekeeping mission to see if the civilian casualties were linked to the attack on the Tagbara base.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack on peacekeepers and is “outraged” at the killing of the 21 civilians and injuries to 14 other civilians, Dujarric said.
“The secretary-general calls on the Central African Republic authorities to investigate these attacks and quickly bring those responsible to justice,” he said.
In another incident, Dujarric said UN peacekeepers on Monday were informed that a rebel group known as the UPC had detained 23 people in Tagbara, including 13 women, seven men and three children.
He said they were released peacefully to UN peacekeepers and spent the night at the temporary base to ensure their safety.
The UN mission condemned the attacks on civilians and said that “nothing can justify these acts that can be considered war crimes.”
It said an investigation would be carried out that “leaves no possibility for impunity.”
The Central African Republic has faced deadly fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui.
Mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
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