A Rwandan UN peacekeeper in the Central African Republic shot dead four colleagues on Saturday and wounded eight others at their base before being gunned down himself, military sources said.
It was the worst such incident to hit the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known by its French acronym of MINUSCA, since it was deployed in September last year following inter-religious clashes that claimed thousands of lives.
“A Rwandan soldier picked up his gun and killed his (four)olleagues before being felled. There were five dead and eight injured,” said a source close to the MINUSCA mission.
The shooting happened at the Rwandan contingent’s base in the capital Bangui and the reasons for the violence remain unknown, said a CAR military officer on condition of anonymity. Rwandan military officials were unavailable for comment.
In December 2013, Chadian and Burundian troops with an African-led peacekeeping force in Central Africa exchanged gunfire but no one was hurt. The MINUSCA force comprises 10,800 troops drawn from Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Morocco, Senegal, Pakistan and Indonesia. The unrest in CAR was spurred by a 2013 coup that ousted president Francois Bozize and then pushed the country into a conflict that took on a religious dimension, pitting sections of Christian and Muslim populations against one another.
Largely Christian “anti-balaka” — or anti-machete — militias were formed to avenge atrocities by the Seleka rebels behind the coup, resulting in waves of killing, rape and pillaging. The Central African Republic is set to hold elections in October, but the polls have already been pushed back three times as the former French colony grapples with its worst crisis since independence in 1960.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled deadly civil unrest in the landlocked nation since 2013, with the upcoming vote seen as a key test for the prospects of reconciliation.