“We are shocked beyond words by this brutal and senseless attack on people who have dedicated their lives to helping others,” Christine Muhigana, Unicef’s Central African Republic representative, said in a statement. “We offer our deepest condolences to the families and the colleagues of the victims.”
The group did not give the names of the dead, or any details about how they died or who might have killed them.
The Central African Republic, with a population of about 5 million people, suffered through civil wars from 2004 to 2007, and from 2012 to 2014. The fighting has never entirely abated, and a series of truces have failed, despite the presence of 14,000 United Nations peacekeeping troops.
“We estimate that over a quarter of the country’s population has been displaced from their homes,” said Lewis Mudge, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. Many people have sought refuge in neighboring countries, like Democratic Republic of Congo, that are troubled themselves. In the area where the attack on Unicef took place, Mr. Mudge said, “the situation has really been deteriorating for the past two years.”
The crisis in the Central African Republic has drawn relatively little international attention, overshadowed by wars and humanitarian disasters in Syria, Yemen and other parts of the world.
Several times, rival militias have formed coalitions that later fragmented, pitting former allies against each other. Mr. Mudge said militia commanders often have little control over their own fighters, many of whom have devolved into armed bandits.