A series of new skirmishes involving the ex-Seleka fighters in the Central African Republic has claimed the lives of at least 30 people while leaving 57 others injured.
The UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, known as MINUSCA, said Thursday that its troops had killed 12 former Seleka fighters in clashes that erupted a day earlier in the market town of Kaga Bandoro in central parts of the country.
MINUSCA said the violence began after ex-Seleka fighters and their sympathizers reacted angrily to the death of one of their members who was killed when he and three others tried to steal a generator from a local radio station.
“There was a disproportionate response from ex-Seleka people, who attacked civilians, including displaced people hiding in church premises,” said a statement from the mission, adding, “Peacekeepers immediately responded, trying to keep the assailants back,” which led to death of 12 of them.
A number of buildings belonging to the UN and other NGOs were also affected in the violence, with reports suggesting that several premises were looted by the fighters and their supporters.
Clashes have continued between former Seleka fighters and rivals from the anti-Balaka group since former president Francois Bozize was deposed from power in March 2013 by an alliance of Seleka fighters, who are Muslims.
MINUSCA has been forced to deploy some 12,000 troops in CAR, which is one of the poorest countries in the world.
The mission has been mostly successful in establishing order in the capital, Bangui. However, reports say the rampant militancy in the countryside is still hampering aid efforts to 120,000 people in urgent need as well as more than 70,000 displaced by the conflict.