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UN peacekeeper killed in Central African Republic

Pacome Pabandji, AFP | UN troops (MINUSCA) in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui on October 2, 2014

A UN peacekeeper was killed in the Central African Republic Tuesday following a clash with Muslim Seleka rebels that comes just weeks before elections in the troubled country.

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The soldier from the MINUSCA force was found dead in Batangafo, north of Bangui, a United Nations spokesman said.

"Following an outbreak of violence between armed anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka elements at an internally displaced persons camp in Batangafo, ex-Seleka elements confronted MINUSCA troops at a nearby MINUSCA checkpoint," said a statement from spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"During the incident, one peacekeeper went missing and was subsequently found dead."

A UN official said the peacekeeper was from Cameroon.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killing and called for swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The attack came as the UN mission is trying to bolster security in the country ahead of elections on December 27 that are shaping up as a test of the country's progress in its political transition.

The Central African Republic descended into bloodshed after the 2013 coup against longtime leader Francois Bozize, with Christian anti-balaka militias battling Muslim Seleka rebels.

The country is also hoping to welcome Pope Francis for a visit on November 29-30, although security concerns may prompt the Vatican to scrap the trip.

The UN has deployed some 12,000 troops and police in its MINUSCA force, and is planning to add about 1,140 more, as well as drones, to beef up security ahead of the vote.

(AFP)

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