UN says Central African Republic soldiers wounded ten Egyptian peacekeepers

55

The United Nations mission in Central African Republic on Tuesday accused the country’s presidential guard of opening fire on unarmed Egyptian peacekeepers and wounding ten of them, but the government said the allegation was inaccurate.

The alleged shooting is the latest in a series of incidents to strain the relationship between the government and the UN mission, known as MINUSCA, which has accused security forces of repeatedly violating the two sides’ status of forces agreement.

MINUSCA said in a statement that the Egyptian peacekeepers had just arrived at the capital Bangui’s airport on Monday when they “suffered heavy fire from the presidential guards without any prior warning or response, even though they were unarmed”.

“MINUSCA strongly condemns what appears to be a deliberate and unjustifiable attack,” it said.

In its attempt to withdraw from the area, located about 120 meters (130 yards) from the presidential residence, the bus transporting the Egyptian unit struck and killed a woman, it said.

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s spokesperson, said the defence ministry would issue a statement later on Tuesday.

“They (MINUSCA) have said something that has nothing to do with reality,” Mokpeme told Reuters, without giving further details.

MINUSCA first deployed to Central African Republic in 2013 following a rebellion that plunged the gold and diamond-producing country into turmoil. The mission has more than 12 000 military and police personnel.

Its relations with the government have soured over a UN arms embargo and the government’s use of Russian security contractors.

In an 12 October report to the UN Security Council, the head of MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, said the mission had recorded 41 violations of the status of forces agreement between 1 June and 1 October.

He cited the obstruction of peacekeeping patrols, the detention of staff members and searches of the residences of UN personnel.



The Security Council is expected to extend MINUSCA’s mandate by another year when it expires on 15 November.