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20 Killed in Attack in Central African Republic

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At least 20 people have been killed in the Central African Republic, an official said Sunday.

Villagers in Ndomété, about 350 kilometers from the town of Kaga-Bandoro, were attacked by armed men from the former rebel coalition Seleka, according to presidential spokesperson Albert Mokpeme.

“The Seleka [rebels] went door to door … The village chief was among the victims … It was a massacre,” Mokpeme said.

The Central African Republic descended into chaos in March 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power, triggering reprisal attacks by Christian anti-Balaka militias.

A fifth of the population fled their homes due to violence. The country remains largely divided along religious lines and controlled by warlords.

More than 400,000 people have been internally displaced, and some half-a-million have fled to neighboring countries such as Chad, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United Nations says aid access in the country is hindered by insecurity and violence, and there have more than a dozen attacks against aid workers.

After killings were reported, the country’s U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, dispatched troops to the area.

“MINUSCA regrets the loss of human life and the wounded that were recorded and also denounces attacks against the humanitarian community and United Nations personnel,” a U.N. statement said.

Mass violence and looting have been reported following tensions between the Seleka fighters and rival anti-Balaka militia members.

The U.N. mission also said Sunday it has "decided to strengthen its military presence in Kaga Bandoro and Ndomété to prevent any deterioration of the situation."