Red Cross workers have found 115 bodies in Central African Republic’s diamond-mining town of Bangassou after several days of militia attacks, the president of the aid group’s local branch said on Wednesday.
The battle for control of the town marks a new escalation in a conflict that began in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters ousted then-President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisal killings from Christian militias.
Aid workers say recent clashes have centered on diamond-rich central and southern areas of the country, with rival militias battling among themselves to control them.
Antoine Mbao Bogo told Reuters by phone: “We found 115 bodies and 34 have been buried.
“They died in various ways: from knives, from clubs and bullet wounds.”
A senior UN official had previously reported 26 civilian deaths.
Hundreds of militia with heavy weaponry seized the southeastern border town of Bangassou at the weekend and UN peacekeepers have since then been trying to wrest it back.
The world body spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said on Wednesday that deployment of extra UN troops and air strikes have helped peacekeepers regain control of strategic points.
He added that clashes between militias in the central town of Bria have killed five people.
The UN is also seeking to verify the deaths of up to 100 people in the town of Alindao.