UN deploys force to site of C.Africa massacreAfrica |Author: AFP | December 28, 2023, Thursday @ 14:05| 2562 views
(FILE) A billboard urging people to vote yes in the upcoming referendum is seen on the side of a road in Bangui, on July 25, 2023. Voters in the flashpoint Central African Republic will vote in a referendum on July 30, 2023 in a controversial plan to change the constitution, opening the door to a third term by President Faustin Archange Touadera. (Photo by Barbara DEBOUT / AFP)
(AFP) - The United Nations on Wednesday said it was deploying peacekeepers to northwestern Central African Republic, where 23 civilians were killed last week in a massacre blamed on rebels.
Fighters believed to be from the notorious 3R armed group attacked the village of Nzakoundou on December 21 and left 23 civilians dead, the UN said in a statement.
The village was torched and the population is thought to have "fled into the bush", it added.
An unspecified number of peacekeepers from the UN's force in the country, MINUSCA, is approaching the village with the aim of "strengthening security in the area and facilitating the access of humanitarian aid to the population".
Civil war has plagued the CAR, one of the world's poorest countries, since a Muslim-dominated armed coalition called the Seleka ousted former president Francois Bozize in 2013.
Bozize raised his own predominantly Christian and animist militias, known as the anti-Balaka, to regain power.
Civilians are often victims of the conflict, with the United Nations accusing all sides of perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The 3R is one of the most powerful of the armed groups and criminal gangs produced by the conflict, although fighting has become less intense in recent years.
President Faustin-Archange Touadera repelled a siege of the capital Bangui by a rebel coalition in late 2020 with the help of Russian paramilitaries, but some remote areas of the country remain outside government control.
© Agence France-Presse