Six civilians killed, several wounded in CAR rebel attack

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UN peacekeeping mission says casualties resulted from ‘large-scale attack’ by 3R armed group against army positions in a northeastern village.

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) says six civilians were killed in a rebel attack in the country’s northeast.

“This morning at dawn elements from the 3R (Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation) launched a large-scale attack against Central African army positions in the village of Mann,” the spokesperson for the UN’s 12,000-strong MINUSCA mission was quoted as saying by AFP news agency on Saturday.

Several civilians were also wounded in the attack, the spokesperson said.

The situation in Mann, some 550 kilometres (340 miles) from the capital, Bangui, is now “under control and patrols are under way”, Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulaziz Fall later said.

The 3R is one of several armed groups to have emerged in the CAR, which has been mired in violence since a brutal civil conflict erupted in 2013.

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra was re-elected in a December 2020 election that saw a turnout of fewer than one in three voters amid rising insecurity.

The ballot was hampered by armed groups – including the 3R – that at the time controlled approximately two-thirds of the country, and rebels mounted an offensive in the run-up to polling day.

Since then, the army, backed by UN peacekeepers, Rwandan special forces and Russian paramilitaries, has wrested much of the territory from rebel control.

On Thursday, the UN Security Council extended an arms embargo on the country for 12 months as members voiced alarm at the “deteriorating” situation.

The extension, which aims to prevent armed groups from acquiring weaponry, is virtually the same as the last embargo but includes an exemption on mortars.

Russia has been aiding the CAR’s poorly-equipped national army since 2018, when Moscow first acknowledged sending personnel to help train its beleaguered forces.

The Russian paramilitaries supplied small arms, gaining exemption from the weapons embargo, and are credited with helping strengthening the CAR’s forces.

Last month, UN experts accused the Russians of having carried out “indiscriminate killings” and looting. Moscow insists the personnel are unarmed and not involved in fighting.

Russia has acknowledged the deployment of about 500 instructors but UN experts estimate there could be up to 2,000.

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