Suspected Retour, Réclamation, Réhabilitation (3R) rebels fired upon United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) peacekeepers in the town of Ngaoundaye (Ouham-Péndé prefecture) on Wednesday, September 29. The clashes coincided with the arrival of electoral teams in the town. MINUSCA forces have increased their patrols in the town following the incident. The 3R group had previously warned the government against deploying electoral teams to Ngaoundaye and threatened to attack any teams that entered the town.
Further clashes between the rebels and peacekeepers, as well as local security forces, are likely in Ouham-Péndé and elsewhere in the country in the run-up to the election period.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has suffered recurrent bouts of civil conflict since December 2012, which has led to hundreds of deaths and almost 700,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and has pushed more than 500,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Chad. Although a peace agreement between armed groups and the government was signed in February 2019, clashes between various armed groups continue to be reported.
Multiple attacks attributed to 3R rebels have been reported in the northwest of the country since the group's leader announced their withdrawal from the 2019 peace agreement in June, including an attack on MINUSCA peacekeepers near the Ouham-Péndé prefecture town of Paoua early on June 9. The attacks have seen an increase in tensions across Nana-Mambéré and Ouham-Péndé in anticipation of further rebel activity, with hundreds of people reported to have fled remote communities in some areas.
3R has announced its intention to boycott the general election which is scheduled to occur on December 27, and the group's leader, Sidiki Abas, has warned the security forces and electoral teams against entering areas it considers to be under its control. MINSUCA launched an operation against 3R in June, but the group has continued to attack security forces and MUNSUCA peacekeepers and harass local communities.
Those in the CAR are advised to monitor developments, maintain a high degree of situational awareness, and remain vigilant for potential rebel activity in their own area of operations. A number of Western governments advise their citizens against travel to many areas of the country for various security reasons, including the presence of armed groups.