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By Kieran Guilbert
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Deadly spells of violence involving rival armed groups and attacks on aid groups in northern Central African Republic have restricted the delivery of aid to tens of thousands of people in need of assistance, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Thirty people were killed and 57 wounded during an attack on refugees by the mainly Muslim Seleka militia in the town of Kaga Bandoro last week, forcing many aid agencies to reduce or temporarily suspend their operations and relocate their staff.
This followed violence last month between the Seleka and Christian anti-Balaka militia which killed six people and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.
As many as 15,000 people uprooted by the fighting have sought protection and aid at the U.N. peacekeeping mission's (MINUSCA) base in the town of Kaga Bandoro, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
"This seemingly never-ending cycle of violence is extremely worrying," said Rocco Leone of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), which is delivering emergency food aid to 8,000 people in addition to regular aid for around 120,000 across the region.
"We see formerly displaced people returning to their homes only to be uprooted again, or people simply unable to return as their areas of origin remain unsafe," Leone said in a statement.
Aid agencies working in the town said their offices had been looted and staff threatened, assaulted and had their homes burned in dozens of attacks on humanitarians since September.
"The blatant targeting of humanitarians over the past few months in Kaga Bandoro has now reached a boiling point," Modou Diaw of the International Rescue Committee said in a statement.
"The risks our staff face each day in delivering aid are now beyond any acceptable level," the IRC's country director added.
The U.N. children's agency (UNICEF) said it was providing water and sanitation for the displaced at the MINUSCA base and setting up temporary classes for children, with schools shut since last week's fighting, which forced many teachers to flee.
The country has been plagued by inter-religious violence since 2013 when the Seleka seized power, prompting reprisals from the anti-Balaka militia. Despite a February election touted as a step toward reconciliation, violence is still frequent.
(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, land rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)