The UN Security Council expressed strong concern Friday at an advance by rebels on the Central African Republic capital and said that those blamed for executions and rapes must be held "accountable".
But it held back from threatening action against Seleka coalition fighters who are estimated to control about three quarters of Central African Republic and are now close to the capital, Bangui.
The Security Council "expressed strong concern at the reports of advances of armed groups toward the city of Bangui and their humanitarian consequences," said a statement released after emergency consultations called by France.
Council members "condemned all attempts to undermine the stability of the Central African Republic," added the statement.
UN officials have warned that widespread summary killings and rights abuses have been committed as tensions mount again in Central African Republic where the rebels oppose President Francois Bozize.
The 15-nation council stressed that those responsible for abuses including "violence against civilians, torture, summary executions, sexual and gender based violence and recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts must be held accountable."
The council highlighted that Central African Republic is a member of the International Criminal Court which handles war crimes.
The council has already this week called on all sides in the huge resource-rich country to keep to a January 11 peace accord which ended a previous rebel offensive on Bangui.
The Seleka rebels claim to be at "the gates" of the capital, which is being protected by an African military force.
UN leader Ban Ki-Moon also called on Seleka to "immediately halt its military offensive" and for all sides to stick to the January 11 peace accord made in Libreville, said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.
"The secretary general reiterates his firm conviction that resorting to violence and military means will only lead to more suffering and instability," added the spokesman.