Three senior members of a Central African Republic rebel group were abducted by unknown assailants in the capital Bangui on Monday after participating in peace talks convened by interim President Catherine Samba-Panza’s government.
The men from the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC), a faction of the former Seleka rebel alliance, were missing after their vehicle was attacked in the Combattant neighbourhood, controlled by the rival anti-balaka militia, rebel sources said.
The attack, from which a fourth UPC delegate escaped with serious injuries, could undermine efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would pave the way for presidential elections that France and its international allies want this year.
Central African Republic was plunged into sectarian violence when the mostly Muslim rebel group briefly seized power in the predominantly Christian country in early 2013, prompting a wave of reprisals by the anti-balaka militia. U.N. and French peacekeeping forces have failed to restore calm.
“Four members of the delegation went to the base of the French peacekeeping force this morning. They were returning in a taxi when they were ambushed,” said General Mohamed Dhaffane, head of another faction of Seleka. He called for the release of the three rebels.