International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Friday that she has opened an initial probe into allegations of "serious crimes" committed in the Central African Republic, where months of sectarian clashes have left hundreds dead.
"My office has reviewed many reports detailing acts of extreme brutality ... and allegations of serious crimes being committed. I have therefore decided to open a preliminary investigation into this ... situation," she said in a statement at The Hague.
The country descended into chaos after Michel Djotodia's predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels deposed president François Bozizé in a March coup. Djotodia officially disbanded the rebel group after he seized power, but some of its former members launched a campaign of killing, raping and looting – prompting some communities from among the Christian majority to form vigilante militias.
The violence continues despite the presence of 1,600 French and 5,000 African-led peacekeeping troops, with about a quarter of the population of 4.6 million already forced from their homes.
New President Catherine Samba Panza – who took over in January after Djotodia was forced to resign – has said the French and African forces "do not have enough men to reestablish and assure the security of the people".
The United Nation's refugee agency said Friday that some 20,000 people have now fled to Cameroon to escape the bloodshed.
"The plight of civilians in CAR ... has gone from bad to worse," Bensouda said.
Some 4,000 Muslims, fearing reprisal attacks, have taken refuge at Bangui airport, near where the peacekeepers are based, hoping to leave the country in the next few weeks.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-02-07