Corpses laid outside UN headquarters by protesters in Central African Republic

Demonstrators blame UN soldiers for firing on residents protesting against the operations in largely Muslim enclave

Central African Republic protesters lay corpses outside UN headquarters

Hundreds of protesters laid the bodies of 17 people killed in clashes in the Central African Republic’s capital in front of the United Nations peacekeeping offices.

UN peacekeepers and local security forces have battled armed groups in Bangui’s PK5 neighbourhood, a largely Muslim enclave within the majority Christian city.

One Rwandan peacekeeper was killed and eight others wounded in fighting on Tuesday.

The surge in violence coincides with a visit by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN’s head of peacekeeping operations.

A demonstrator holds up a placard reading ‘Too much is too much, we have enough’ (Getty)

The demonstrators, who blame UN soldiers for firing on residents protesting against the operation in PK5, carried the bodies wrapped in cloth to the gates of the mission, known as Minusca.

They shouted and carried improvised signs as armed peacekeepers stood before the entrance to the fortified compound.

The Red Cross quickly removed the bodies from outside the embassy.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which operates one of the main hospitals in Bangui, said it had treated more than 40 people for gunshot wounds on Tuesday.

Violence increased in the Central African Republic after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted its president, Francois Bozize, in 2013, provoking retaliation killings by “Anti-balaka” armed groups, drawn largely from Christian communities.

Self-styled Muslim self-defence groups sprang up in PK5, claiming to protect the Muslim civilians concentrated there against efforts to drive them out.

But Minusca now accuses them of extortion and violence against civilians and said it had launched the operation in PK5 at the request of the neighbourhood’s residents.

In a statement late on Tuesday, Minusca said Rwandan peacekeepers had come under attack.

“For four hours, the Minusca force had to push back heavily armed elements of criminal gangs who deliberately opened fire on the international forces, who fired back,” it said.

“Any attack against [UN troops] can constitute a war crime.”

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