The international community condemned the attack against a peacekeeping convoy in the Central African Republic (CAR), in which a Moroccan peacekeeper was killed and three others were injured in a fire exchange on July 23.
The attack took place when a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) was targeted by Anti-Balaka militiamen in Bangassou (southeast). The convoy of Moroccan peacekeepers was escorting a water tanker to a river to help supply civilians in a village.
The UN Security Council condemned this aggression “in the strongest terms”, and noted in a statement that “attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes”, calling on the government of the Central African Republic to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
In the same vein, the UN Secretary General António Guterres said he was “appalled by attacks against United Nations peacekeepers.”
“The Secretary-General offers his condolences to the bereaved family and to the Government of Morocco. He also wishes speedy recovery to those injured,” Guterres was quoted as saying by his spokesperson Farhan Haq.
Guterres is “deeply concerned” about the continued fighting in the southeast of the Central African Republic and calls on all parties to cease violence, Farhan Haq said in a statement.
The French foreign ministry, for its part, has issued a statement strongly rebuking the attack and stressing the need to bring the perpetrators before justice.
While underscoring Morocco’s commitment to peacebuilding in Africa, the French foreign ministry called for an effective disarmament of armed groups in CAR and voiced support for the MINUSCA.
The Spanish foreign ministry has also issued a statement expressing firm condemnation of the aggression against the MINUSCA convoy and extended condolences to the family of the Moroccan peacekeeper.
Violence flared in the area of Bangassou, about 700km away from capital Bangi, after the Anti-Balaka rebels perpetrated deadly attacks on Muslim civilians and UN peacekeepers alike.
Last May, a Moroccan peacekeeper was killed in a fire exchange after an attack by the Anti-Balaka group on a Moroccan checkpoint in downtown Bangassou. The attack also claimed the lives of several civilians.
The May attack came just hours after the UN held a memorial ceremony to honor five peacekeepers, four Cambodians and one Moroccan, killed on May 8 in a nearby village of Yogofongo, in a deadly attack perpetrated by suspected Anti-Balaka elements.
Ten peacekeepers, 9 Moroccan and a Cambodian, were injured in this attack.
Morocco sent 1470 peacekeepers to the MINUSCA, which has a total of 12,870 uniformed personnel including 10,750 military personnel and 2,080 police personnel.
Since 2013, the Central African Republic has been mired in a civil conflict after clashes surged between the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition and Anti-Balaka militias.