UN forces help quell CAR jailbreak

2018-04-13 12:45


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The UN forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) said they helped prevent a prison breakout in the capital on Tuesday as deadly clashes unfolded in a flashpoint district between peacekeepers and militia.

Two inmates were killed and a third was injured after the violence erupted in Bangui's Ngaragba central prison on Tuesday, the UN mission in CAR, known as Minusca, said in a statement on Wednesday. No detainee escaped.

The incident happened after the justice ministry received a tipoff that the prison was going to be attacked from outside in an operation coordinated with inmates, it said.

Guards carried out a snap search of the cells, which led to a fight that then spread into a full-blown riot and attempted jailbreak.

"As the prisoners were determined to take over the jail and break out, and after attempts at negotiation failed, the domestic security forces, supported by Minusca, had to use force to restore order," it said.

Gunfire was heard from inside the prison, witnesses told AFP.

In a separate incident, 19 people, including a UN soldier, were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes on Tuesday between peacekeepers and armed men in the volatile PK5 Muslim enclave of the capital.

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The violence occurred two days after Minusca troops entered the PK5 district in a security sweep against gangs.

Minusca had wanted "to protect itself and protect the population" its spokesman Vladimir Monteiro, told AFP on Thursday.

"The Rwandan (blue helmets) were targeted by heavily armed people," he added.

Tuesday's clashes marked the bloodiest incident in Bangui since President Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected in 2016.

It was an event showcased as a turning-point in one of the world's poorest and most chronically unstable countries.

The former French colony of 4.5 million people spiralled into bloodshed after longtime leader Francois Bozize was overthrown in 2013 by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance.

France intervened militarily from 2013 to 2016 to push out the Seleka alliance but wound down the operation after Touadera came to power.

The country remains plagued by violence between ex-rebels and vigilante militia2s.

Minusca plays a crucial role in supporting Touadera's government, which can claim to control just a fifth of the country, with the rest in the hands of militias.

Read more on:    un  |  central african republic  |  central africa

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