United Nations forces retake strategic areas of C. African Republic city

United Nations forces retake strategic areas of C. African Republic city

"The President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemns with no uncertain terms the despicable attacks by armed assailants on 8 and 13 May 2017 in Bangassou, in the south-east of auto, and in the vicinity of this town, targeting the MINUSCA and causing several deaths and injuries among the United Nations peacekeepers", the pan-African organization said in a statement posted Sunday on its electronic portal.

An overnight attack targeted civilians in the town of Bangassou as well as a United Nations mission field office and "in the firefight, one peacekeeper of the Moroccan contingent died from gunshot injuries", the United Nations mission MINUSCA said in a statement.

"We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Moroccan authorities", said the French Foreign Ministry, stressing that France condemns with the utmost firmness the attack on the city of Bangassou and the MINUSCA contingent, which resulted in numerous civilian casualties and the death of a Moroccan blue helmet.

"The situation is extremely deplorable and we are doing everything to rapidly retake control of Bangassou", MINUSCA chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga told the media in an interview. He said child soldiers, who appear to be drugged, are among the assailants.

Fighting in the eastern region of Central African Republic has mounted in recent months. 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.

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday he was "outraged" by the attacks on the 13,000-strong mission.

He said the worldwide community will be "relentless" in apprehending the perpetrators of these crimes and all their commanders, including some instigators who may be sponsoring these attacks from Bangui.

"The blood of peacekeepers and the blood of innocent Central Africans will not fall in vain in this country", he said.

Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji condemned the attacks in a statement on local radio on Sunday and said those responsible would be brought to justice. It said while they couldn't determine if the rebels had yet left, they had agreed to do so.

More than 400,000 people in the former French colony are displaced internally and 2.2 million, or almost half the population, are reliant on aid.

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