- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - An armed group fired at a U.N. police patrol monitoring a protest near the airport in the capital of the Central African Republic on Friday, wounding six constables, a U.N. peacekeeping official said.

The shootings followed an attack on a U.N. convoy in Bangui on Thursday that killed a Pakistani peacekeeper. It was the first death of a peacekeeper since the United Nations took over efforts to calm months of unprecedented violence between Christians and Muslims from an African Union force in September. Another peacekeeper was wounded and several others were slightly injured in that attack, all from Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Central African Republic has been devastated by months of unprecedented violence between Christians and Muslims that has sent thousands of Muslims fleeing the country. At least 5,000 people have died.

This week, Bangui has seen its most significant violence since the U.N. force took over. The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday there were “many casualties.”

On Friday, about 300 unarmed youths occupied the runway at the airport in Bangui to demand the resignation of transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza, the U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The U.N. police patrol was monitoring the protest when the armed group opened fire, the official said.

The wounded constables were evacuated by the peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA, the official said.

Earlier Friday, the U.N. Security Council condemned Thursday’s attack on the convoy “in the strongest terms” and underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers “may constitute a war crime.”

The council also reiterated its resolve to impose sanctions on individuals and entities involved in planning, directing, sponsoring, or conducting attacks against the U.N. mission and other security forces.

The council called on Central African authorities to condemn the attack, swiftly investigate, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Council members expressed concern at the recent upsurge in violence and reiterated support for Samba-Panza. They called on all armed groups to immediately implement a July 23 cease-fire agreement.

The Security Council in April authorized a nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic to replace the AU force. But when the U.N. took over peacekeeping duties on Sept. 15, its strength was only 7,500, including 4,800 African troops and 1,000 international police from the previous mission and about 1,700 new troops and police.

The Security Council called for additional measures to improve the safety and security of all MINUSCA and associated personnel.

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