Washington - The United States expressed shock on Wednesday after vigilantes hacked 12 civilians to death in the Central African Republic ahead of a UN vote authorising more forces to stop the bloodshed.
Christian militiamen attacked Muslim herders late on Monday north of the capital Bangui, a military source told AFP, noting that there were children and a disembowelled pregnant woman among the victims.
"The United States is appalled by today's reports of the murder of innocent women and children outside of Bangui," deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement.
"This horrifying account is the latest in a string of reports that illustrate the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) that could lead to an escalation in violence and further atrocities."
The massacre took place on the eve of the expected adoption by the UN Security Council of a resolution giving French and African troops the green light to deploy in the troubled African nation.
Harf said Washington was working with its allies to "find the swiftest and most effective vehicle for stabilizing the situation."
The United States recently announced $40m in aid to the African Union-led stabilisation mission known as MISCA to boost security services.
Harf also hailed France's decision to double its military contingent in the country to about 1 000 troops.
"The United States remains committed to supporting the international community's efforts to find a solution that protects civilians, restores security, ensures greater humanitarian access and puts CAR on a path back to democratic governance," she added.