Renewed clashes between Muslims and Christians have left at least 75 people dead in the Central African Republic's town of Boda, a local priest said Monday, while heavy fighting erupted between rebels and peacekeepers in the capital, Bangui.
Father Cassien Kamatari told The Associated Press on Monday that fighting had erupted five days ago in the town of Boda, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) outside Bangui. Muslim victims were buried soon after the attacks so it was not known how many of them also were killed in addition to the toll given by the priest.
“Instead of thinking only of Bangui, people must also think of what’s happening in the countryside, because what we are living through in these communities is horrific,” he said.
In the capital, Muslim militias engaged Burundian peacekeepers in some of the heaviest fighting since France sent peacekeepers to the Central African Republic, a former colony, in early December.
Some 1,600 French and 5,000 African peacekeepers are struggling to bring an end to the violence.
Hundreds of people have been slain across the country since March 2013, when Seleka rebels deposed president François Bozizé in a coup. The rebel group was officially disbanded after seizing power, but some of its former members launched a campaign of killing, raping and looting, prompting some Christian communities to form vigilante militias.
Brutal retaliatory violence
The armed Christian movement, known as the anti-Balaka, are also accused of carrying out scores of human rights abuses.
Retaliatory violence against Muslim civilians has forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives. Angry mobs in the capital have torched mosques and used machetes to hack Muslims to death in the streets, then mutilated their bodies in a final act of rage.
There was renewed concern Monday for hundreds of Muslims in the northwest community of Yaloke, said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser in Bangui. Local Christian militiamen on Sunday issued an ultimatum that all Muslims were to leave the town within 24 hours, she said.
“Some 2,000 people tried to squeeze onto about ten trucks,” she said, noting that one overturned because it was so heavy.
“Everyone was running for their lives – it was a panic zone.”
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
Date created : 2014-02-03