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Peacekeeper Killed in Renewed CAR Clashes

FILE - United Nations peacekeeping troops take part in a ceremony in the capital city of Bangui, Central African Republic.

<p>Renewed clashes broke out this week in the Central African Republic, resulting in the death of a United Nations peacekeeper in the capital, Bangui.</p> <p>Amnesty International is calling the fighting the biggest test yet for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country.</p> <p>The United Nations reports that a member of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic was killed and several others were wounded on Thursday, when a U.N. convoy was attacked in Bangui.</p> <p>The death was part of an outburst of violence that began Tuesday when a crowd in the capital city killed a man suspected of throwing a grenade. This led to a series of clashes between the country&rsquo;s warring militias, including the Muslim Seleka and the Christian and animist anti-Balaka.</p> <p>Watchdog group Amnesty International says dozens of people have been killed this week.</p> <p>The International Committee of the Red Cross said their staff members in Bangui were threatened, and have been unable to reach the wounded or retrieve bodies of the dead.</p> <p>Amnesty&rsquo;s CAR expert Christian Mukosa says that although the violence had died down by the end of the week, shops and offices remain closed, and civilians in the city are still at risk.</p> <p>&ldquo;The situation remains very tense, and we fear that there&rsquo;s a risk for civilians, especially those who are living now in the site for internally displaced people just near the airport, or within the compounds of churches and other places," said Mukosa.</p> <p>Last month the United Nations took over a peacekeeping mission in the country that had previously been led by the African Union.</p> <p>This is the most serious test the U.N. mission has had to face in the CAR, says Mukosa, but keeping the peace has not been easy.</p> <p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re trying to do what they can, but there are a lot of political issues, including [their] capacity to effectively respond to the situation," he said. "But I can say that the situation is really explosive, and everyone needs to support everyone to ensure that especially civilians are protected from any attacks from anti-Balaka, from Seleka, and other militias or armed groups."</p> <p>Thousands have been killed in the country since March of last year when Seleka rebels seized power and went on a spree of killing and looting. The violent backlash from Christian and animist militias led aid groups to warn of so-called "ethnic cleansing," saying the situation could deteriorate into a genocide.</p> <p>CAR authorities have issued no statement on the violence this week.</p>