Gunmen attack Muslims fleeing Central African Republic

A woman walks past French peacekeeping troops in a street of the capital Bangui January 17, 2014.

Attackers armed with automatic rifles and machetes ambushed a convoy of Muslims fleeing sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, killing 22 people and leaving survivors with gashes spurting blood, Save the Children said on Sunday. Three children are among the dead.

Spokesman Mike McCusker said doctors described gory scenes and harrowing accounts after gunmen fired a rocket grenade to halt a convoy of refugees and then attacked with firearms, machetes and clubs.

“Our doctor said there was bloody everywhere, just pouring out of people like tap water,” McCusker told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Friday’s attack took place in the remote northwest of the country outside the town of Bouar and shows African and French peacekeepers are not reaching remote areas where violence goes unreported, said the British charity’s country director Robert Lankenau. Life remains precarious in the “still fraught and highly dangerous” situation, he said.

“An incident of this magnitude has only come to the forefront because of our internal contacts at the hospital,” McCusker said. “Maybe a lot of these stories are not being reported.”

Related: European Union foreign ministers are expected to agree on Monday to send up to 1,000 soldiers to help stabilize Central African Republic, the EU’s first major army operation in six years, EU officials said on Friday.

The intervention by the 28-nation bloc comes after a senior U.N. official warned on Thursday of the risk of genocide in Central African Republic without a more robust international response to communal bloodshed.