Rebels kill seven villagers in C.Africa

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Rebels killed seven villagers in the northwest of the war-torn Central African Republic, local sources told AFP on Thursday.

Armed men from the 3R group, one of the most powerful of many militias that terrorise local populations, attacked the village of Ndanga near the border with Chad on Wednesday night, local police official Jean-Ulrich Sembekpanga said.

"They opened fire on the population and killed seven people. Six others were injured," Bernard Dillah, an MP for the nearby town of Ngaoundaye, told AFP, also pointing the finger at the 3R.

Sembekpanga corroborated the death toll and said the attackers also took a man hostage as they fled when soldiers arrived.

One of the world's poorest countries, the Central African Republic has been torn apart by civil wars for much of the past nine years.

In 2013, a Muslim-dominated rebellion overthrew president Francois Bozize, sparking reprisals from predominantly Christian and animist self-defence militias.

The fighting peaked in intensity in 2018 and rebel groups controlled two-thirds of the country's territory until early 2021.

A rebel coalition tried to oust President Faustin-Archange Touadera in late 2020 by launching an offensive on the capital Bangui, but Russian mercenaries helped the army to repel it.

However, the state still struggles to establish its authority in many remote areas of the vast nation.

The United Nations and NGOs have accused all sides of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.