A United Nations peacekeeper from Burundi was killed on Sunday while attempting to stop an armed militant attack in the Central African Republic (CAR), according to a statement released by the UN Mission in the country, MINUSCA.
Armed rebel fighters known as the anti-Balaka, under the command of Dimitri Ayoloma launched an attack on the town of Grimari, west of Bambarim in Ouaka prefecture, in central CAR.
#RCA🇨🇫:— ONU Info (@ONUinfo) March 16, 2020
➔ un casque bleu burundais🇧🇮 de la MINUSCA🇺🇳 (@UN_CAR) a été tué par des anti-balaka dans le centre du pays.
➔ @ndiayemankeur condamne un « acte odieux ».
➔ pour @Lacroix_UN d'@UNPeacekeeping, « ce crime ne doit pas rester impuni ».@un_burundi https://t.co/Lntb13iSNZ
Panic reportedly ensued in the town after they opened fire on the homes of the mayor and sub-prefect.
In accordance with its mandate to protect civilians, peacekeepers from the UN Mission immediately intervened to try and end the assault.
"One of them was fatally injured by the Anti-Balaka, who deliberately opened fire on the peacekeepers", MINUSCA said in a statement released the day of the attack.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in CAR, Mankeur Ndiaye, strongly condemned the "heinous act" that cost the life of a blue helmet.
"This attack on the city of Grimari and the peacekeepers is unacceptable and constitutes a serious crime under the jurisdiction of national and international courts," said the UN envoy.
"The leader of these armed elements, Dimitri Ayoloma, as well as all the perpetrators and accomplices of the attack will have to answer for their actions before the courts", he added.
Mr. Ndiaye, who also heads MINUSCA, recalled that any attack on the life of a peacekeeper can be considered a war crime and is liable to both national and international prosecution.
"This crime must not go unpunished" tweeted Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN chief of peacekeeping operations.
MINUSCA has reinforced patrols in Grimari to increase the safety of civilians and deter other attacks
Mr. Lacroix, Mr. Ndiaye and all the staff of MINUSCA expressed their condolences to the family of the fallen peacekeeper as well as to the people and Government of Burundi.
On 7 March in the country’s northeast, civilians found in the bush the bullet-riddled body of a blue helmet from the UN Mission in Ndélé, who had reportedly been killed by alleged fighters from the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (FPRC).
‘Spare no effort’
In a statement, Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack and expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the deceased peacekeeper, the Government and the people of Burundi.
He called on CAR authorities to “spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of these attacks so that they can be swiftly brought to justice” and reaffirmed MINUSCA’s determination to continue implementing its mandate, in particular to protect civilians and to help advance the political process in the country.
For its part, the Security Council condemned “in the strongest terms” this attack and “all attacks, provocations and incitement to violence against MINUSCA by armed groups and other perpetrators.”
The Council members also strongly condemned the killing of a MINUSCA national staff member in Ndélé, in the north-east, on 7 March 2020.
They reiterated their full support to the mission and expressed their “deep appreciation” to MINUSCA’s troop- and police-contributing countries, to Special Representative Mankeur Ndiaye, to the mission for assisting CAR’s authorities and the people themselves for “their efforts to bring lasting peace and stability”.