Fresh fighting kills 23 in Central African Republic

Renewed clashes between two armed groups in Birao raise doubts about sustainability of peace deal signed in February.

Member of the Anti-Balaka armed militia walks next to United Nations peacekeeping soldiers in the village of Makunzi Wali, Central African Republic
The UN peacekeeping mission in the country said one of its soldiers was injured in the fighting [File: Baz Ratner/Reuters]

Fighting between rival armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) has left at least 23 people dead and scores wounded, according to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA).

The clashes between the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic and the Movement of Central African Freedom Fighters for Justice took place in Birao, near the Sudanese border. 

The two groups, who also fought in Birao earlier this month, were among 14 armed groups that in February signed a peace deal with the government of the conflict-ravaged country.

In a statement late on Saturday, MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said “the situation remains tense but there is no more fighting”.

He added that a MINUSCA peacekeeper “was slightly wounded”, without specifying the individual’s nationality. A Zambian contingent of the multinational force is stationed in the area.

On September 5, President Faustin-Archange Touadera said the accord was “quite strong” but the renewed clashes raised further concerns about its effectiveness in ending the violence after years of conflict following the toppling of then-President Francois Bozize in 2013.

Previous peace agreements signed in 2014, 2015 and 2017 broke down.

The fighting has forced nearly half the country’s 4.5 million people to migrate, making them now dependent on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

The 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission, deployed since 2014, has struggled to restore order to the countryside where the government has little or no control and attacks are frequent.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies