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UN chief warns C. Africa could plunge back into full-blown conflict

General Antonio Guterres.

United Nations, United States | AFP | A new bout of violence in the Central African Republic that has killed nine peacekeepers this year risks derailing years of efforts to restore a fragile stability, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday.

Guterres condemned the killing of two Moroccan peacekeepers who were ambushed in the southeast town of Bangassou on Tuesday, just two days after another soldier was killed in an attack on the same contingent.

The United Nations has blamed anti-Balaka Christian militias for the attack.

Guterres said he was “deeply concerned at the fighting in the southeast of the Central African Republic, heightened inter-ethnic tensions and efforts by spoilers to derail the stabilization process in the country.”

“If allowed to continue, the prevailing situation risks undermining the hard-won gains achieved towards lasting peace,” he said in a statement.

The UN chief called on all parties to “cease violence” and “take action to avoid a further deterioration of the fragile security situation in the country.”

The anti-Balaka Christian militias.

Among Africa’s poorest countries, the Central African Republic is struggling to emerge from the bloodletting that erupted in 2013 following the overthrow of president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim rebels from the Seleka coalition.

More than one million people are displaced in the country and more than 2.3 million — half of the population — depend on humanitarian aid to survive, according to UN figures.

Following a visit to the Central African Republic this month, UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien also raised the alarm, calling for action to avoid a repeat of the large-scale crisis that gripped the country four years ago.

The United Nations has 12,350 troops and police on the ground to help protect civilians and support the government of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was elected last year.

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