A United Nations peacekeeper from Burundi was killed when attempting to stop an armed militant attack in the Central African Republic (CAR), according to a statement by the UN Mission in the country, MINUSCA.
Armed rebel fighters known as the anti-Balaka, under the command of Dimitri Ayoloma launched an attack on Grimari, west of Bambarim in Ouaka prefecture, in central CAR.
Panic reportedly ensued after they opened fire on the homes of the mayor and sub-prefect.
In accordance with its mandate to protect civilians, UN peacekeepers intervened to end the assault.
“One was fatally injured by the Anti-Balaka, who opened fire on the peacekeepers”, the MINUSCA statement said.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in CAR, Mankeur Ndiaye, condemned the “heinous act” that cost the life of a blue helmet.
“The attack on Grimari and peacekeepers is unacceptable and constitutes a serious crime under the jurisdiction of national and international courts,” said the UN envoy.
“The leader of these armed elements as well as the perpetrators and accomplices will have to answer for their actions before the courts,” he added.
Ndiaye, who also heads MINUSCA, said any attack on a peacekeeper can be considered a war crime and is liable to both national and international prosecution.
“This crime must not go unpunished” tweeted Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN chief of peacekeeping operations.
MINUSCA reinforced patrols in Grimari to increase the safety of civilians and deter other attacks
On 7 March in the north-east of CAR, civilians found the bullet-riddled body of a blue helmet from the UN Mission in Ndélé, in the bush. He was reportedly killed by alleged fighters from the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (FPRC).