Anti-UN unrest claims four lives in Central African Republic

United Nations says four civilians demonstrating against the global organisation's military presence killed and 14 others wounded in clashes between UN peacekeepers and protestors in capital Bangui.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

) This file photo taken on January 2, 2016 shows United Nations peacekeepers patrolling outside a vote-counting centre for the presidential and parliamentary elections in Bangui.

Four civilians were killed and 14 others injured in Bangui, capital of Central African Republic, on Monday in a clash between UN peacekeepers and armed men during a protest against the UN military presence, the United Nations said.

The clashes occurred as hundreds of protesters gathered to call for troops from the UN mission (MINUSCA) to leave the country.

A Reuters witness saw protesters, carrying anti-UN posters, throwing stones and shouting at the troops who responded with warning shots. There was then an exchange of gunfire between the troops and armed men near the crowd.

"MINUSCA intervened in the early morning hours of Monday to dismantle barricades erected by the demonstrators," the mission said in a statement.

"MINUSCA believes that Monday's events constitute a new attempt by enemies of peace to disturb the return to constitutional normality," it added, adding that five peacekeepers were among the injured.

The statement did not offer further specifics on the casualties.

But the president of the CAR Red Cross, Antoine Mbao-Bogo, said earlier that three protesters had been killed and six wounded by gunfire.

One of the world's poorest countries, the Central African Republic descended into sectarian bloodshed after the March 2013 ouster of president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by the Seleka rebel alliance.

This triggered revenge attacks and a spiral of atrocities between Christian and Muslim groups in which thousands were slaughtered and a tenth of the population displaced.

The chaos prompted the establishment of the UN mission MINUSCA a year later.

MINUSCA has been dogged by dozens of allegations of sexual abuse, prompting a broad UN inquiry. Criticism of the 13,000-strong mission has mounted in recent weeks with local people accusing the peacekeepers of not doing enough to protect them.

"We have seen that their mission has no use and it's just better that they leave," IT engineer Didier Fabrice Balandegue said as gunfire rang out in the background.

Earlier in October, 30 people were killed and dozens wounded during an attack on refugees by Seleka forces, although violence in the capital in recent months has been rare. (AFP/archive)

Civil society groups launched a petition last week calling for MINUSCA's departure and the re-arming of the national armed forces, currently subject to a weapons embargo.

Government spokesman Theodore Jousseau blamed the violence on politicians trying to destabilise the administration.

"These are embittered politicians who hide behind civil society to manipulate the population," he said.


TRTWorld and agencies