U.N. peacekeeping forces have retaken Muslim majority areas that have been attacked by Christian rebels in the Central African Republic during the weekend.
Nearly 30 Muslim civilians and one Moroccan peacekeeper were killed in the weekend attacks involving more than 700 Christian anti-Balaka rebels in the Muslim district of Tokoyo in Bangassou. Thousands of residents were displaced, while some have locked themselves in their homes for safety, according to a report from Crux.
The attack also targeted a U.N. base in the town, prompting the deployment of extra troops to prevent further attacks. Herve Verhoosel, the spokesman for the U.N. mission (MINUSCA), said that U.N. troops were able to partly secure the town by dusk.
More than 1,000 people fled to the mosque in Bangassou on the Congolese border. As many as 1,500 took refuge in a cathedral, and 500 more escaped to a hospital, according to humanitarian agencies.
Verhoosel noted that U.N. forces have managed to free the area around the mosque on Monday, enabling the people inside to escape.
U.N. officials said that the attack appears to be aimed at Muslims in the region and that it may be a sign that the religious and civil tensions in the Central African Republic may be reaching a tipping point.
On Sunday, the president of CAR, Faustin Archange Touadera, reassured citizens that justice will be sought and called on rebel leaders to "stop this blind and unjustified violence."
"Central African Republic will never be left in the hands of these sowers of death," the president said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed outrage over the attacks on the 13,000-strong mission that have killed six peacekeepers around Bangassou, which was previously shielded from the conflict.
Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji also condemned the attacks, vowing that those responsible would be brought to justice.
Reports from local news agencies indicated that the rebels were willing to call a ceasefire and write their complaints in a letter to the government. However, Local Red Cross President Pastor Antoine Mbao Bogo noted that gunfire continued throughout the night on Sunday, which prevented humanitarian groups from helping the wounded and recovering the dead.
The conflict in CAR erupted in March 2013, when the mostly-Muslim rebel coalition known as Seleka overthrew Christian President Francois Bozize during the Civil War.
Over 400,000 people have been internally displaced, and 2.2 million people, or nearly half of the country's population, are now reliant on aid as a result of the conflict.