A group of armed Christian rebels has launched a deadly attack in Bangassou in the Central African Republic over the weekend and have killed up to 30 Muslim civilians, according to U.N. officials and aid workers on May 14.
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The recent violent attacks by Christian militias in the Central African Republic caused hundreds of civilians to seek refuge inside a mosque. Additional troops were deployed to the border town after the armed rebels also targeted the U.N. base, but U.N. mission spokesman Herve Verhoosel said they have successfully secured the town, Reuters relays.
"The situation is extremely deplorable and we are doing everything to rapidly retake control of Bangassou," MINUSCA chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga told Reuters.
"It is clear that we are looking at numbers that could easily reach 20 to 30," Onanga-Anyanga said of the death toll.
Central African Republic has been beset by religious violence when mostly Muslim Seleka fighters came to power and ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013. The event led to revenge killings by Christian militias. Aid workers say these militias appear to be taking advantage of security voids left behind by Ugandan and French soldiers when their missions came to an end in the last few months.
Meanwhile, Verhoosel confirmed on May 15 that the 1,000 people held hostage in the mosque by armed militias have already been freed. Speaking via telephone from Bangui, the MINUSCA spokesman said there are now no people inside the mosque, Reuters said in another report.
Verhoosel said MINSUCA forces opened fire on the rebels guarding the mosque. They have already identified at least 26 of the dead bodies.
On May 14, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed outrage over the attacks which left six peacekeepers dead in an area that was previously free of conflict. Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji also condemned the deadly attacks and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.