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Africa

Grenade attack kills 20 mourners in CAR capital Bangui

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-28

At least 20 people were killed late Thursday when extremists threw hand grenades at mourners during a funeral service in the Central African Republic's capital of Bangui, the government said Friday.

The government said the perpetrators were "well known to the police" and would be brought to justice.

"Around 11:00pm (Thursday) a group of extremists, well known to the police, threw hand grenades at a crowd that was attending a wake," Public Security Minister Denis Wangao Kizimale told national radio.

"At least 20 people were killed and 11 others wounded and are currently undergoing treatment in hospital," he added.

"The government condemns this odious act. Already, an inquiry has been opened to determine the circumstances of this crime. Those responsible will be found and brought to justice," said Kizimale.

A source close to the families at the funeral service told AFP that a pregnant women and several children were among the victims.

Members of the local community held an angry street protest on Friday, blaming the attack on Muslims, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

Even before Thursday night's incident, a recent uptick in violence had seen around 20 people killed in Bangui since Saturday.

Government forces and international peacekeepers have repeatedly clashed with the mostly Christian anti-balaka militia and people looting Muslim areas in the capital.

The country slipped 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 in the Christian-majority nation to form vigilante militias.

Djotodia was forced out of power in January, sparking retaliatory violence against Muslims that has prompted the United Nations to warn of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Thousands have been killed and around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people have been displaced in the unrest.

French President François Hollande will co-chair a "mini-summit" of 15 European and 15 African nations in Brussels on Wednesday over the escalating crisis in the Central African Republic.

EU officials said Friday that the talks would be held ahead of a wider EU-Africa summit starting later on Wednesday that will gather 90 nations and include 65 heads of state and government, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP) 

Date created : 2014-03-28

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