At least 25 people have been killed and 51 others wounded in clashes in the northeast of the Central African Republic, according to the country’s communications minister.
Fighting between armed groups in Ndele led to the deaths of 21 civilians, Ange-Maxime Kazigui said on Thursday, adding that “the situation remains confused.”
Humanitarian workers, however, said that members of the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (FPRC) had clashed in Ndele the previous day.
“The Gula wing of the FPRC attacked the Runga faction” in Ndele on Wednesday, an official from the country’s United Nations mission, known by its French acronym MINUSCA, told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
“There were about 100 Gulas who entered the town wearing civilian clothes,” the official said.
There have been clashes between Runga and Gula in Ndele, which is under FPRC control, since the start of March.
The FPRC last year split into two factions: the Runga ethnic group on one side, including FPRC’s military chief Abdoulaye Hissene, and rival fighters from the Gula and Kara ethnic communities on the other side.
They are fighting for control of the region’s resources, including its vast diamond deposits.
The Central African Republic has struggled with violence despite a peace deal signed between the government and 14 armed groups last year.
The country has suffered several crises since 2003, when former President Francois Bozize seized power in a coup.
The country spiralled into bloodshed after Bozize was overthrown in 2013 after a coalition of rebel groups from the largely Muslim north of the country fought their way into the capital, Bangui. In response, mostly-Christian militias known as the anti-balaka struck back, exacting revenge on Muslim civilians.
Since then, fighting has forced nearly a quarter of the country’s 4.5 million people to flee their homes and spawned a hotchpodge of armed groups as the rebel coalition disintegrated, with rival militias battling over resources controlling most of the country.