As high as 34 people were killed on Tuesday and many were wounded when Fulani armed group attacked two villages in northwestern Central African Republic, the UN’s peacekeeping mission said.
The massacre took place in the villages of Koundjili and Djoumjoum, Mankeur Ndiaye, head of MINUSCA, said in a tweet on Wednesday.
Ndiaye said MINUSCA “utterly condemns” the killing, and vowed: “The authors of crimes such as these will be sought, arrested and brought to justice.”
The slaughter was the biggest single loss of life since the government and 14 militias signed a deal in February aimed at restoring peace to one of Africa’s most troubled countries.
A UN source said the killings were carried out by a group called 3R, which hosted a meeting with the villagers and then gunned them down indiscriminately.
“Twelve people were killed in Koundjili and 14 in Djoumjoum,” the source said.
The group takes its initials from three words in French meaning “Return, Reclamation and Reconciliation”.
It claims to represent the Fulani, one of the CAR’s many ethnic groups.
The militia was one of the 14 groups that signed that February 6 peace accord — a controversial arrangement under which the government gave out key positions to warlords and would set up mixed units of regular troops and militiamen.
The head of 3R, Bi Sidi Souleymane, also known as Sidiki, was appointed one of three “special military advisors” to the prime minister, in charge of setting up the combined unit.
The CAR has been struggling to recover from the bloodletting that erupted when former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown in 2013 by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.
Armed groups, typically claiming to defend an ethnic or religious group, control about 80 percent of the CAR, often fighting over access to the country’s mineral wealth.
Thousands have lost their lives, nearly 650,000 have fled their homes and another 575,000 have left the country, according to UN figures as of December last year