Clashes in Central African Republic leave dozen dead

Clashes in Central African Republic leave dozen dead
# 07 August 2015 02:22 (UTC +04:00)

"On Sunday and Monday, gunmen claiming to be anti-Balaka attacked a herdsmen's camp in the village of Malegbassa in the Zangba commune to steal their cows, killing four people and wounding four others," a police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday.

The attacks were followed on Monday by reprisals by the ex-Seleka rebel group and armed herdsmen against residents of neighboring Ndoma village, killing at least eight people and wounding several others, the source added.

Several people were also taken captive in Ndoma, the source said, noting that the death toll could rise further.

"The reprisals also caused many Ndoma and Malegbassa residents to flee into the bush and (nearby) Democratic Republic of Congo," the police source said.

Amnesty International has condemned the ongoing violence against Muslims in the CAR, saying Muslims face religious persecution in the country.

A report released on July 31 cited evidence that the anti-Balaka militiamen force the Muslims in the western CAR to hide their religion or convert to Christianity.

“We have to hide, do it [prayers] quickly, and do it by ourselves,” said a trader in Sangha-Mbaere Prefecture, adding that it is effectively impossible to pray in the face of incessant threats by the Christian militia.

Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled the CAR over the past two years as the anti-Balaka rebels keep committing widespread human rights abuses against them. The violence began when a coalition of Seleka rebels ousted long-time President Francois Bozize in 2013.

The CAR plunged into chaos and sectarian violence in March 2013 after the Seleka and anti-Balaka groups turned their guns on each other to dominate the crisis-stricken country’s politics and vast mineral resources.

In an attempt to restore peace and stability to the former French colony, in August 2014, a transitional government headed by Catherine Samba Panza was formed that included members from different political parties and ethnic groups. Presidential and parliamentary elections in the country are scheduled for October this year.