- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic says 25 people have been killed in clashes between armed groups amid “rising tension” in parts of the long-turbulent country.

A statement late Friday said 15 fighters were killed Thursday in the communities of Mbriki and Belima on the outskirts of the central town of Bambari.

And on Friday, six police and four civilians were killed in an ambush on a main road there.

The U.N. statement added that on Friday afternoon, anti-Balaka forces attacked eight peacekeeping officials as they made their way toward the local airport. A 7-year-old child was injured, the statement said.

The peacekeeping mission urged armed groups to cease the cycle of violence of recent weeks, which it said goes against the aspirations for peace among the vast majority of the population in the impoverished, landlocked nation.

Central African Republic descended into conflict in 2013 when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the Christian president. That ushered in a brutal reign in which the rebels committed atrocities. When the rebel leader left power, a deadly backlash by the Christian anti-Balaka militia against Muslim civilians followed.

The sectarian violence has continued, despite a high-profile visit by Pope Francis last year to appeal for calm.

Earlier this month, fighters with the former Seleka group attacked the northern town of Kaga-Bandoro, with at least 30 killed and 57 wounded in clashes as U.N. peacekeepers confronted them. And in the capital, Bangui, 11 people were killed and 14 injured in violence sparked by the killing of a military official.

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