Central African Republic’s presidential guard opened fire on United Nations peacekeepers in the capital, wounding 10 of them, the U.N. mission said Tuesday. One person was struck and killed by a U.N. vehicle as it fled the scene.
The U.N. mission known as MINUSCA condemned Monday’s development, calling the shooting of the unarmed Egyptian peacekeepers near the presidential palace “deliberate and unjustifiable.”
Presidential spokesman Albert Mokpem Yaloke urged calm, saying it was “an incident that we are managing.”
“We deplore the death of this compatriot and we offer our most saddened condolences to the family,” he said.
Monday’s incident took place after a MINUSCA civilian officer entered the security perimeters of the presidential residence, according to MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro.
“After an exchange with the forces, he decided to turn back,” Monteiro said.
The development comes amid mounting security fears in the capital, Bangui, of another rebel attack. Back in January rebels tried to seize the capital but were repelled by security forces after intense fighting on the city’s outskirts.
President Faustin Archange Touadera recently offered a unilateral cease-fire to rebels, though said that government forces could still act in self-defense. The unexpected gesture prompted speculation that the president was becoming more vulnerable to the armed groups who oppose him.
Tensions are also rising between the government and the U.N., which has called on the country’s authorities to separate from the Kremlin-linked Wagner group that is responsible for the president’s safety. The U.N. has also imposed an arms embargo.
The U.N. mission, which now has more than 12,000 military and police personnel, deployed to the mineral-rich country in 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced then President Francois Bozize from office.
Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christian, later fought back, also targeting civilians in the streets. Untold thousands were killed, and most of the capital’s Muslims fled the city in fear of their lives.
The country saw a period of relative peace in late 2015 and 2016, but violence then intensified once again. A 2019 peace deal between the government and 14 rebel groups has neared collapse in the years since.