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UN says, Central African Republic corpse protest was propaganda

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The UN says protesters who placed corpses in front of their headquarters in the Central African Republic (CAR) were using the bodies for “propaganda”.

“Some people are using dead bodies… to say that we have killed civilians,” a UN spokesman told the BBC.

On Wednesday, demonstrators calling for an end to violence put 17 bodies outside the UN building in Bangui.

They said the dead were innocent civilians killed in clashes between UN troops and armed groups.

But the UN says the dead were armed criminals who had been targeting peacekeepers and government soldiers.

“They shot at our peacekeepers and we returned fire,” UN spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said. “The bodies resulted from the clashes.”

“We condemn the fact that some people are using dead bodies for a kind of propaganda,” he added.

The UN mission, known by the acronym Minusca, says it launched the military operation after residents complained about extortion and violence by the armed group.

It said in a statement on Tuesday that its soldiers had been attacked: “For four hours, the Minusca force had to push back heavily armed elements of criminal gangs who deliberately opened fire on the international forces, who fired back.”

A demonstrator told Reuters news agency the UN forces had shot at civilians during Tuesday’s operation.

“We, ourselves, no longer understand anything,” he said. “Does their mission consist of shooting at civilians?”

UN troops and the local Red Cross team later removed the bodies.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which operates one of the main hospitals in Bangui, said it had treated more than 40 people for gunshot wounds on Tuesday.

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