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United Nations peacekeepers helped the Central African Republic’s armed forces beat back a rebel attack on the capital, Bangui, on Wednesday, marking a dramatic escalation in a conflict that erupted ahead of last month’s presidential election and now threatens to spiral into a regional crisis.
A Rwandan peacekeeper was killed during the attacks on two army brigades on the outskirts of Bangui, according to U.N. officials, and several dozen rebel fighters were also killed or captured. The fighting forced more than 10,000 civilians to flee in a single day across the Ubangi River to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a total of 50,000 people from CAR have sought refuge since December. Another 9,000 have arrived in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Congo, and 58,000 more are displaced within CAR, according to U.N. officials, who warned that the scale of the humanitarian crisis will soon overwhelm their ability to respond.