Hundreds of civilians are seeking refuge inside a mosque in the Central African Republic’s border town of Bangassou amid ongoing attacks by Christian militias that have killed up to 30 civilians, Unite Nations officials and aid workers said on Sunday.
The attacks throughout the weekend on the town of Bangassou on the Congolese border have involved hundreds of fighters with heavy weaponry and appeared to be aimed at Muslims, they said, in the latest sign that the multi-year conflict is worsening.
The UN base there has also been targeted, prompting the deployment of extra troops to the remote town on Sunday in anticipation of further attacks. They had succeeded in partly securing the town by dusk, said Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for the UN mission (MINUSCA).
Asked about the civilian death toll, he added: “It is clear that we are looking at numbers that could easily reach 20 to 30.” Many of the fighters are child soldiers who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, he added.
Pastor Antoine Mbao Bogo, the local Red Cross president, said gunfire continued to ring out from the town on Sunday, blocking attempts by his organisation and others to reach the wounded and recover the dead.
More than 400,000 people in the former French colony are displaced internally and 2.2 million, or nearly half the population, are reliant on aid.