Central African Republic crisis: UN peacekeeper killed

UN CAR Image copyright Anadolu Agency
Image caption The UN took over peacekeeping duties in CAR last month

A UN soldier has become the first peacekeeper to die in the Central African Republic (CAR) after a convoy was ambushed on the outskirts of the capital Bangui.

The peacekeeper from Pakistan was killed in a road accident when a UN vehicle was attacked on Thursday night, according to officials.

Another soldier was severely wounded and seven others injured.

Religious unrest has killed at least 5,000 people this year in CAR.

Clashes erupted again this week - the worst since the UN took charge of peacekeeping operations in September.

The sound of gunfire was ringing out across the capital on Thursday.

The BBC's Laeila Adjovi in Bangui says the city's streets are empty, shops and fuel stations are closed, while humanitarian workers have been advised to stay at home.

Much of the city is in lockdown with roadblocks across major streets, she says.

Following the attack on the UN convoy, the organisation's Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the incident was "entirely unacceptable".

The identity of those who carried out the ambush was not immediately clear.

Miriam Dessables, spokesperson for the CAR peacekeeping force, said the UN would continue its operation.

"We are here, we're on the ground and the force is actually doing its work," she told the BBC.

CAR has suffered ethnic and religious unrest since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country in March 2013.

Their leader later stepped down under intense diplomatic pressure but the violence has continued.

Catherine Samba Panza, a Christian, was chosen as a interim president but a Christian militia leader recently called for her to stand down, saying her government has failed to disarm Seleka fighters.

Our correspondent says there is concern that this spike in violence is more coordinated, and that Christian militias are becoming more organized.

If this is the case, keeping the peace will become increasingly difficult, she says.

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