Central African Republic violence 'highly worrying,' United Nations says

Armed group kills UN peacekeeper in Central African Republic

Clashes intensified on Monday in the town of Bria, about 300 km (180 miles) from the southern-eastern border town of Bangassou during the day, forcing about 1,000 civilians to seek shelter near the U.N. base, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.

The overnight assault on the camp in the southeastern city of Bangassou, which is near the Democratic Republic of Congo, was staged by the mainly Christian anti-Balaka group, the United Nations mission in the country (MINUSCA) said.

Zeid said Tuesday that the spreading violence "is highly worrying and should set off loud alarm bells".

Just this weekend in Bangassou, in the south, armed men (presumed to be anti-Balaka) used heavy weapons to attack the base of the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA*).

"They reiterated that attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes and reminded all parties of their obligations under worldwide humanitarian law", the statement said.

She added that as of late morning, women and children as well as the injured and dead had left but an unknown number of men were still held hostage inside.

So far, the bodies of at least 26 people have been identified.

"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. Some 8,500 people have been displaced by violence there, Dujarric said.

"The hard-earned relative calm in Bangui and some of the bigger towns in auto risks being eclipsed by the descent of some rural areas into increasing sectarian violence, with defenceless civilians - as usual - paying the highest price".

CAR Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji also condemned the attacks in a statement on Sunday and said those responsible would be brought to justice.

"There are widows and orphans in front of us today", he said.

Associated Press writer Carley Petesch contributed from Dakar, Senegal.

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