The 3R militia group, blamed for a massacre of more than 50 civilians in the Central Africa Republic earlier this week, has handed over three of its members to the authorities, the government said Saturday.
The massacre Tuesday in villages near the northwestern town of Paoua, close to the border with Chad, were the worst single loss of life since the government and 14 militias signed a deal in February aimed at restoring peace to one of Africa's most troubled countries
A government source said the 3R's three men "were questioned yesterday at Paoua. They said they had led a group of 22 men to carry out this operation."
On Wednesday, the government and the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, delivered an ultimatum to 3R, giving it 72 hours to hand over those responsible for the killings and disband.
According to a UN source, the 3R group -- which gets its initials from "Return, Reclamation and Reconciliation" and claims to represent the Fulani, one of the country's many ethnic groups -- hosted a meeting with the villagers and then gunned them down indiscriminately.
The CAR government said it took note of the handover of the three men but it maintained in place the ultimatum against 3R and had sent a mission to the area with MINUSCA to oversee the group's disbandment.
3R said in a statement Saturday that it was not involved in the killings which were solely the responsibility of rogue elements.
It strongly condemned the attack and reiterated "its strong will to continue to work for peace."