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Ban condemns killing of UN 'blue helmet' in Central African Republic

MINUSCA peacekeepers on patrol in the Central African Republic.
MINUSCA peacekeepers on patrol in the Central African Republic.

Ban condemns killing of UN 'blue helmet' in Central African Republic

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the killing today of a peacekeeper from the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) following a confrontation with armed elements in the town of Batangafo, amid ongoing violence in the strife-torn country where elections are set to take place before the end of the year.

In a statement issued this evening by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban condemned the killing of the “blue helmet” severing with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission, known by the French acronym MINUSCA, in Batangafo, located 400 kilometres north of the capital, Bangui.

“Following an outbreak of violence between armed anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka elements at an internally displaced persons camp in Batangafo, ex-Séléka elements confronted MINUSCA troops at a nearby MINUSCA checkpoint,” said the statement, which added that during the incident, one peacekeeper went missing and was subsequently found dead.

“The Secretary-General deplores, in the strongest terms, any attacks against UN peacekeepers, and calls for swift action to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice,” said the statement.

Mr. Ban in the statement strongly condemned the ongoing fighting in the CAR and reiterated his call for all armed groups to immediately lay down their weapons and refrain from violence.

“He underscores the importance of creating an environment conducive to the holding of elections in line with the calendar announced by the National Electoral Authority to complete the country's transition and bring sustainable peace and stability to the Central African Republic,” the statement stressed.

Further to the statement, the UN chief reiterated that MINUSCA will take all necessary measures in line with its mandate to protect civilians and foster stability. Mr. Ban also offered his sincere condolences to the family of the victim and to the Government of Cameroon.

The UN mission had reported earlier that that the National Electoral Authority yesterday announced that the constitutional referendum will take place on 13 December and the first round of presidential and legislative elections will be held on 27 December. A second round of elections, if necessary, will be conducted on 31 January 2016.

MINUSCA, which was 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.

A recent crisis was sparked in the capital, Bangui, on 26 September, when according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) violent clashes erupted between the residents of PK5 in Bangui's 3rd district and the 5th district after the death of a young Muslim taxi motorcyclist. The violence left dozens of people dead and several injured. Houses were looted in other neighbourhoods and many burned. Thousands of people have fled the areas with heightened tension to seek refuge mostly with host families and in displacement sites.