Muslim-Christian severe violence in CAR. Sectarian violence continues despite expanded military presence.
|Dozens of people are being treated in the corridors of |
overcrowded hospitals. Pic. World Watch Monitor
Nairobi | WWM | December 11, 2013:: Three days of sectarian violence have left hundreds dead in the Central African Republic capital.
An offensive in Bangui by Christian-dominated anti-Balaka militias on Dec. 5 sparked fierce reprisals from mainly Muslim Séléka rebel forces.
In the next three days, more than 400 people were killed in Bangui alone, according to the Red Cross. Dozens of people bearing gunshot and stab wounds have sought treatment in the corridors of overcrowded hospitals, medical sources said.
The violence started with shots of heavy and automatic weapons on what Msgr. Juan José Aguirre Muños, Bishop of Bangassou, described as “an apocalyptic day”.
“Early in the morning I was at the airport in Bangui when, all of a sudden, hell broke out. Repeated shots were heard,” he said, as quoted by the catholic news agency Agenzia Fides. “A family in the neighbourhood welcomed me into their home. I stayed there for eight hours while the fighting raged.
At four in the afternoon, the Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, came to pick me up with an escort of soldiers from the African Mission in Central Africa, and led me to the Archbishopric.”
In the predominantly Muslim area of Bangui’s 3rd District, Séléka forces went door to door, looting properties and killing men, local sources said.
The Central African Republic has been beset by violence since March, when a coalition of rebel groups, led by Michel Djotodia under the Séléka banner, drove out President Francois Bozizé.
Djotodia took control of a transitional government, but lost control of Séléka soldiers. He disbanded Séléka in September, but its members continue to loot, rape and murder Christians in particular. Since September, the mostly Christian and Animist local population have formed self-defence groups named anti-Balaka, which have attacked Muslims, in turn inviting brutal reprisals from Séléka and raising fears of inter-faith genocide.
Courtesy: World Watch Monitor | Washington Post | AFP | AP.