At least twenty-five people were killed and 51 injured in clashes in the northeast of the perennially unstable Central African Republic, according to the communications minister on Thursday.
Ange-Maxime Kazigui said that fighting between armed groups in Ndele led to the deaths of 21 civilians.
“The situation remains confused”, Kazigui further added.
However, humanitarian workers have said that members of the Popular Front for CAR’s Rebirth (FPRC) had clashed in Ndele on Wednesday.
Last year, the FPRC split into two factions: the Runga ethnic group on one side, including FPRC’s military chief Abdoulaye Hissene, and rival fighters from the Gula and Kara ethnic communities.
They are fighting for control of the region’s resources including its vast diamond deposits.
CAR struggles with violence despite a peace deal signed between the government and 14 armed groups.
There have been clashes between Runga and Gula in Ndele, which is under FPRC control, since the start of March.
Tensions between the ethnic groups had spilled over last September in the town of Birao on the Sudanese border and then again in Bria, a diamond centre in the east of the country, last January.
On March 11, thirteen people — most of them fighters — were killed in further clashes at Ndele.
One of the world’s poorest and most unstable nations, the former French colony has suffered several crises since 2003 when former president Francois Bozize seized power in a coup.
In 2013, at least 30 people were dead and dozens injured in clashes between ex-rebels of the Seleka coalition and local self-defence groups in the Central Africa Republic.
Two Moroccan UN peacekeepers were killed in an attack in the Central African Republic’s southeast, two days after the death of another soldier from the same contingent in the year 2017.
In February 2019, the government and 14 armed groups signed the eighth in a string of peace deals. Under it, rebel chiefs were given government positions, and army troops and militiamen were meant to carry out joint patrols.