UN forces retake strategic areas of C. African Republic city

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The UN base there has also been targeted, prompting the deployment of extra troops to the remote town on Sunday in anticipation of further attacks.

The U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, or MINUSCA, says it is sending reinforcements to Bangassou where it says displaced civilians are seeking refuge in a mosque, a Catholic church and a Doctors Without Borders hospital. It can not yet determine a civilian death toll.

"It is too soon to give precise statistics on the number of dead following the violence but it is clear that we are looking at numbers that could easily reach 20 to 30", MINUSCA chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga told Reuters news agency. Numerous fighters are child soldiers who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, he added. In the same vein, he urged Central African Republic authorities to investigate these attacks and bring the perpetrators before justice.

Despite heavy fire against MINUSCA's field office, peacekeepers attempted to respond to the attack in Tokoyo to protect civilians. MINUSCA recalls that acts of violence on ethnic or religious grounds may constitute crimes under global law subject to prosecution in domestic or worldwide courts.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday strongly condemned attacks against the civilian population and UN peacekeepers in the vehicle, urging authorities to investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

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CAR President Faustin Touadera said Sunday he intends to go to Bangassou to give his "support to the wounded population".

Despite pledges by militias to take part in a government-led disarmament programme, militias from rival ethnic and religious groups have increased their attacks on opponents with aid workers reporting that a security void left after Ugandan and French soldiers departs had been used by the militias to their advantage.

A spokesman for the United Nations mission said the situation is extremely deplorable and they are doing everything to rapidly retake control of Bangassou.

The African Union, France and Spain have also strongly condemned the recent attacks against MINUSCA.

France is determined to continue, in collaboration with all of its European, African and worldwide partners, its efforts to ensure stability and consolidate peace in the Central African Republic. More than half of the population relies on humanitarian aid, but the United Nations says relief efforts are dangerously underfunded.

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