Thirty civilians and two soldiers were killed on Sunday, November 28, in attacks by armed groups in the north-west of the Central African Republic, in the grip of fighting between rebels and the army, the heaviest death toll since the establishment by President Faustin Archange Touadéra in mid-October of a cease-fire.

"About thirty civilians and two members of the Central African armed forces were killed on Sunday in two simultaneous attacks in the villages of Kaïta and Bayengou", about 500 km northwest of the capital Bangui, near the border with Cameroon, Esaïe Gbanin, sub-prefect of the region told AFP.

>> To see: Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic: "The Russians support us in the Central African Republic"

Classified as the second least developed country in the world by the UN, the Central African Republic was plunged into a bloody civil war after a coup d'état in 2013. This conflict continues but has considerably decreased in intensity over the past three years, even if sections whole territories continue to escape central power.

The sub-prefect implicated the rebels of the 3R group (Return, Complaint, Rehabilitation).

The 3Rs, mostly made up of Peuls, are one of the most powerful armed groups in the Central African Republic.

They participated in the rebel coalition which launched a vast offensive at the end of December to overthrow President Faustin Archange Touadéra, who was running for a second presidential term.

Many attacks

The latter was re-elected and called on Moscow and Kigali to help, which massively dispatched Russian paramilitaries - "mercenaries" from the private company Wagner according to the UN - and elite Rwandan soldiers.

These forces have reconquered the vast majority of the country and pushed the rebels back into the bush, from where they are stepping up guerrilla actions.

Since Monday, many inhabitants of the region have taken refuge in neighboring Cameroon, continued Esaïe Gbanin.

On November 14, 11 civilians were killed in the same region of northwestern Central Africa by gunfire between soldiers and rebels.

The local authorities had also pointed the finger at the responsibility of the 3Rs in this attack.

>> To read: The UN accuses the Russian paramilitary group Wagner of "harassment" of civilians in the Central African Republic

On November 9, in Bocarangua commune, still in the north-west, at least two soldiers and one civilian were killed.

"The 3R group benefits from a large supply of arms which comes mainly from Chad, and these rebels are quite well armed and they control the guerrillas", explains to AFP Hans de Marie Heungoup, analyst for Central Africa at the 'International Crisis Group (ICG).

"The situation will worsen in the coming weeks if the sub-region and the Western partners do nothing to force the belligerents to respect the ceasefire," he continues.

"A unilateral ceasefire"

President Touadéra on October 15 decreed a "unilateral cease-fire" of his army and his allies - Rwandan soldiers and Russian paramilitaries who enabled him to repel the rebel offensive - to promote the imminent opening of a national dialogue.

The main armed groups had announced that they would also respect a ceasefire.

The services of the head of European diplomacy Josep Borell announced on Tuesday that the presence of the Wagner group in the Central African Republic and its hold over the country could lead the European Union to end its training mission for the Central African armed forces (Faca).

"Recent documented reports, national and international, denounce human rights violations committed by Russian instructors and employees of private companies operating in the Central African Republic," said Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for Josep Borrell.

The EU has two training missions, in Mali and in the Central African Republic, which are threatened by the activities of the mercenaries of the Wagner group in these two countries.

With AFP

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