Voice of America (Washington, DC)

3 February 2014

Central African Republic: 75 Killed in Car Village, According to Priest

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch
Machetes being confiscated (file photo).

A priest in the Central African Republic says at least 75 people have been killed in a new bout of inter-religious violence. Father Cassien Kamatari says the killings occurred over the past six days in Boda, 100 kilometers west of the capital, Bangui, after former Seleka rebels stopped in the town.

In an interview with VOA French to Africa Service, Kamatari says that before leaving last Tuesday, the fighters closed off the town's main road and gave weapons to the local Muslim population. Starting Tuesday night, he says, people heard gunshots.

The priest escaped but says his sources inside Boda tell him the death toll is 75 - with 15 bodies at the hospital and 60 on Catholic church grounds. He says his sources "were not able to check everywhere so it might be higher."

Kamatari said the town is short of food and water and appealed for international forces to intervene. The C.A.R. is grappling with a wave of sectarian violence that has displaced more than 800,000 people.

About 1,600 French and 5,000 African peacekeepers have been unable to halt the fighting. The country descended into lawlessness last year after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize. A new transitional government led by former Bangui mayor Catherine Samba-Panza has appealed for calm.

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