25 June 2014

Central African Republic: CAR Moslem Herdsmen Killed in Reprisal Attack

Photo: Till Muellenmeister/IRIN
Anti Balaka fighters at Bangui´s estate PK9, waiting to attack Muslim IDP convoys passing along the road.

The sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, CAR, appears to know no end, following the killing of at least 15 Moslem Peul pastoralists in Liwa village near the northern town of Bamabari. Radio France Internationale, RFI yesterday, June 24, 2014, reported that the massacre, in the herdsmen's camp outside the village, was in apparent reprisal to the killing of over 10 Christians in the same village on June 12, 2014 by Moslem youth from Bambari.

Gunmen suspected to be Christian anti-Balaka militiamen from Bambari are thought to have carried out the latest attack, but Sebastien Wenezoui, the second in command of the group, denied any responsibility for the killings. He said the perpetrators were out-of-control militiamen who were no longer taking any instructions from the militia high command.

Another anti-Balaka official, Brice-Emotion Namsio, said the killings were unwarranted especially as Séléka and the anti-Balaka are trying to reach a peace deal. Agency reports cited an officer from the African Union-led MISCA peacekeeping force as confirming the killings. He however put the casualty figure at 17 dead, adding that the anti-Balaka mutilated and burnt some of the bodies of their victims.

According to him, the largely Moslem Séléka gunmen responded to the news by going on the rampage in the centre of Bambari, killing some people. The ensuing confusion caused some 6,000 Bambari residents to take refuge in the local Bishop's residence at the Saint Joseph Catholic Church. Meanwhile, French peacekeepers have since taken up positions in the town to prevent further violence. Séléka recently reorganised, setting up new military and security high commands in the town, in a move seen as a threat to the unity of CAR.

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