Clashes between armed civilians and the rebels who now control Central African Republic have left at least 23
people dead in a remote village in the country’s northwest, a top military official has said.
Fresh violence erupted early on Tuesday in the town of Gaga, about 200 kilometres northwest of the capital, Army General Mahamat Bahar said.
The waves of attacks on villages in Ouham province have already forced more than 170,000 people to flee their homes, according to the UN humanitarian agency.
Other witnesses say that at least twice the army figure had been killed.
Aurelio Gazzera, a Catholic priest who works in the country’s northwest, said the village of Gaga had first come under attack from apparent supporters of ousted President Francois Bozize.
Rebels from the alliance known as Seleka that overthrew Bozize in March then retaliated, he said, citing witnesses who had reached a nearby town.
The Seleka forces involved in the ensuing violence included fighters from neighbouring Sudan, local residents said.
“A witness described having seen at least 40 people killed by the Seleka fighters who had begun searching for the men in town,” he said, noting that that toll did not include Seleka casualties.
Diplomats at the United Nations are trying to increase security in Central African Republic amid the growing reports of attacks and hope for a Security Council vote on Thursday on a resolution.
The UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations have been private, said the draft resolution expresses the council’s intention to consider options to support an African Union peacekeeping force, expected to eventually include up to 3,500 troops.
It asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit detailed options within 30 days of the resolution’s adoption, including the possibility of transforming the AU force into a UN peacekeeping force, the diplomats said.