Two days of violence beginning on October 27 have resulted in the death of at least 25 people in the town of Bambari in the Central African Republic (CAR). According to reports from UN stabilization force MINUSCA, “six gendarmes and four civilians lost their lives on Friday morning [October 28] in an ambush on the Bambari-Grimari road.” One day earlier, 15 people died in clashes on the outskirts of the town.
The UN mission condemned the violence and called for all armed groups to end “the cycle of attack and reprisal.” This latest string of attacks comes after Selaka rebels killed over 40 people in two attacks earlier this month. There are currently 12,000 UN peacekeepers deployed in the CAR.
The violence originated from the hostility between the Christian vigilante anti-Bakaka group and Muslim ex-Selaka rebels. The Central African Republic has been plagued with conflict along religious and ethnic lines since 2013.
In March 2013, Selaka rebels seized power and deposed Christian President Francois Bozize. The Selaka group was ousted from power shortly after, provoking a series of revenge attacks between Christian and Muslim groups. Thousands were killed and approximately 4.7 million people, or one quarter of the country’s population, were displaced.
A new government led by President Faustin Touadera was elected in February 2016 and the CAR has seen an overall reduction in violence since then. In the wake of the recent violent outbursts, Touadera invited the two militia groups behind the clashes to talks. MINUSCA appealed to the militia groups to accept this invitation. Neither the government nor the militias commented on the recent incidents.
MINUSCA’s presence in the country has also been the source of much conflict. Demonstrators protested on October 24 in the capital, Bangui, calling for MINUSCA to leave the country. Protesters argue that the mission “failed to maintain stability or protect citizens.” MINUSCA denounced these demonstrations, which culminated in looting and gunfire, as a “denigration campaign against peacekeepers.”