Two Moroccan UN peacekeepers killed in C Africa attack: UN


Daily life at the under construction camp of the UN Peacekeepers from Netherlands in Gao.

BANGUI, Central African Republic - Two Moroccan UN peacekeepers were killed Tuesday in an attack in the Central African Republic's southeast, two days after the death of another soldier from the same contingent, the force said, blaming pro-Christian militias for the violence.

"The Minusca (peacekeeping mission) regrets to announce the deaths of two more blue helmets on Tuesday afternoon in Bangassou," a town 700 kilometres (430 miles) east of the capital Bangui, the peacekeeping force said in a statement.

The Moroccan peacekeepers "were killed in an ambush by suspected anti-Balaka fighters, while another peacekeeper was lightly injured," Minusca said in its statement.

The UN peacekeepers were attacked as they were stocking up with water "for the humanitarian needs of the town," the statement added.

The country is struggling to emerge from a civil war that erupted in 2013 following the overthrow of former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim rebels from the Seleka coalition.

The coup led to the formation of "anti-Balaka" (anti-machete) vigilante units, drawn from the Christian majority, which began to target Muslims. Both sides committed widespread atrocities.

On the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangassou has in recent weeks become the epicentre of the unrest in the Central African Republic.

A similar ambush in Bangassou on Sunday left another Moroccan UN peacekeeper dead.

On Friday, a patrol of peacekeepers was shot at and one of the attackers killed, a Minusca spokesman told AFP, again blaming pro-Christian militias.

Six blue helmets were killed in Bangassou in May.

Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to stop violent Christian-Muslim clashes and formally ended its peacekeeping mission only last month, hailing it a success despite fresh outbreaks of violence.

That leaves mainly the UN's 12,500-strong Minusca peacekeeping mission to protect civilians from armed groups.