Seven United Nations police were ambushed and illegally detained by armed elements Sunday evening in a province near the Central African Republic (CAR) capital of Bangui, according to reports from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission there (MINUSCA).
The police were held near Boali in the Ombella Mpoko prefecture in the country’s southwest, allegedly by anti-Balaka elements. All police were freed the same night, but without their equipment and weapons, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said at today’s regular briefing at UN Headquarters.
Also, in a separate incident yesterday, a MINUSCA position in Damara, also in Ombella Mpoko, was fired upon by three unknown armed men. Peacekeepers returned fire, killing one assailant and seizing a number of weapons, said Mr. Dujarric. Two of the assailants managed to escape.
The spokesperson said that “The Mission strongly condemns attacks against its peacekeepers and calls for swift action to bring the perpetrators in both crimes to justice.”
“The Mission underlines that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law,” he added.
Mr. Dujarric also noted that the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, will be travelling to CAR tomorrow to take stock of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
During his visit, he hopes to meet displaced people in Bangui and in Dekoa in Kémo province, and is expected to meet President Catherine Samba-Panza and other senior officials and representatives of the humanitarian community to discuss challenges in delivering assistance and ways of improving response to those affected by the crisis.
MINUSCA, set up in April 2014 to help bring peace after a breakdown of governmental authority and vicious intercommunal fighting between mainly the Muslim Séléka group and the mainly Christian anti-Balaka movement, currently maintains nearly 11,000 uniformed personnel in the country, one of the world’s poorest.