BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC/PARIS—Escalating numbers of attacks and extortion attempts against humanitarian aid workers in the Central African Republic (CAR) are threatening the provision of essential medical services for people in desperate need, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

The latest incident occurred November 7, when a clearly identified MSF truck carrying medical supplies was stopped by an armed group on the road between the capital, Bangui, and Paoua in the north, between the towns of Yaloké and Bossembélé. The truck's crew was held captive while a sum of money was demanded for the vehicle and the crew's freedom. Twenty-four hours later, on the same road, a second MSF truck was held up by the same armed group. The team leader was taken away and forced to negotiate a payment.

"These two events are extremely serious," said Delphine Chedorge, MSF's head of mission in CAR. "On each occasion, the attackers proved to be highly aggressive, insulting, threatening, pointing their guns at our staff members and shooting in the air. "What proved to be actual confinement of teams in both cases resulted in the extortion of substantial amounts of cash," Chedorge continued. "Fortunately, no one was injured, but these types of attacks and threats against humanitarian aid workers are unacceptable."

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