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UN Condemns Escalating Violence in CAR

FILE - Families prepare food in a refugee camp in Kaga-Bandoro, Central African Republic, Feb. 16, 2016. Ex-Seleka fighters attacked a refugee camp there Oct. 12.

United Nations agencies are condemning attacks by ex-Seleka fighters in the Central African Republic and calling for restraint to prevent further escalation of violence.

Tensions in the Central African Republic between Muslim ex-Seleka rebels and the Christian anti-balaka militia have been rising since September 12, when a group of ex-Seleka entered a hospital in Kaga-Bandoro in the country’s north demanding treatment for a member.

Since then, a number of unsettling incidents have occurred, including attacks against civilians and violence against humanitarian workers.

The worst occurred Wednesday, according to the U.N. Human Rights office, when hundreds of ex-Seleka members attacked a camp for internally displaced people, the prefect’s office and a camp run by U.N. peacekeepers.

Thirty people were killed, including 18 civilians and 12 ex-Seleka fighters, agency spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told VOA. She said many others were injured, and houses and offices were set on fire and looted.

Before the violence erupted in September, the country’s armed groups were participating in a process of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation.

"This sudden escalation is particularly worrying," Shamdasani said. "… We are calling on the armed group to stop right now, to exercise restraint to prevent a further escalation and to go back to the table, to resume the dialogue."

The U.N. children’s fund also condemned Wednesday’s attack. It reported armed ex-Seleka men attacked a secondary school in Kaga-Bandoro while teacher training was underway. It said three teachers and the director of the Regional Pedagogical Center were killed.

United Nations officials are urging the ex-Seleka to resume the process of disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating, seen as a crucial step toward peace.