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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic says 18 civilians are dead and 23 wounded after an armed group opened fire during a funeral ceremony.

The statement on Tuesday says the gunmen with the Union for Peace armed group carried out the overnight attack on Friday in the central town of Ippy.

The peacekeeping mission condemns “this terrible massacre” that occurred as a new round of peace talks on Central African Republic began in Sudan.

Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest nations, has faced interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013. The violence has intensified and spread in recent months.

The 13,500-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission has struggled to protect civilians and contain the fighting since its arrival in 2014.