This article was originally published by CNN and is reprinted here.
A United Nations official is headed to the Central African Republic after reports that over 100 women, girls and boys were raped and abused — many by U.N. peacekeepers.
This article was originally published by CNN and is reprinted here.
A United Nations official is headed to the Central African Republic after reports that over 100 women, girls and boys were raped and abused — many by U.N. peacekeepers.
CNN’s Lorenzo Ferrigno and David Shortell contributed to this report.
By STEVE NIKO and HIPPOLYTE MARBOUA of AP via Huff Post World Post
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Clashes in Central African Republic’s capital have resulted in “many casualties,” the International Committee for the Red Cross said Thursday, marking the most significant violence in the city since a United Nations force took over peacekeeping last month.
The violence complicated relief efforts. Doctors Without Borders said its staff was staying home Thursday because of the dangers, and the ICRC said its workers “were subjected to direct threats” as they tried to recover bodies.
“It’s truly regrettable that such actions can jeopardize any attempt to help the wounded,” said Antoine Mbao Bogo, the national president of the Central African Red Cross. His organization provided an initial tally of 12 deaths, but staffers did not have access to all neighborhoods.
The violence began Tuesday when a former fighter with a mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition was killed by anti-Balaka Christian militias who mutilated his body before burning it, witnesses said.
The man had been accused of launching two grenades, one in an anti-Balaka stronghold in the north of the city, prompting the anti-Balaka fighters to chase after him.
“He was chased by anti-Balaka fighters who caught him, killed him and burned his body,” Bangui resident Wilfried Maitre said.
Reprisal attacks ensued, with Muslim fighters killing two people, including the driver of a taxi, witnesses said. Other taxi drivers then staged a protest, raising tensions.
Later on Wednesday, anti-Balaka fighters paraded through the streets, showing off their weapons and shooting into the air, said Pieterjan Wouda of Doctors Without Borders. “That’s something we haven’t seen in a long time,” he said.
Heavy weapons could be heard Thursday morning, Wouda said, adding that Doctors Without Borders staff would be staying home because it was not safe to move around.
The mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition toppled the president of a decade last year, installing their chief, Michel Djotodia, as the country’s new leader. Widespread human rights abuses combined with escalating violence in the capital in December and January led to Djotodia’s resignation.
The country is currently headed by transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza.
At least 5,000 people have died over nine months of sectarian violence in the country. The International Crisis Group warned last month that the transition was at risk of falling apart.
“The main armed groups are in disarray, lack clear leadership, seek to expand their areas of control and pursue banditry as much as politics,” the group warned.
Associated Press writer Robbie Corey-Boulet contributed reporting from Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
by KRISTA LARSON -Associated Press
CARNOT, Central African Republic (AP) — Ibrahim Adamou’s parents had just been killed in front of him. He wasn’t sure whether any of his five siblings had survived the attack by Christian militiamen who opened fire on his family of herders as they journeyed on foot.
The 7-year-old just knew he had to keep running.
Covering 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) barefoot and alone, he slept under the thick cover of banana trees at night and followed the red rutted paths by day, not entirely sure where he was going, with nothing to eat.
Finally he encountered peacekeepers who gave him some cookies and pointed the way to Carnot, where a Catholic church was sheltering some 800 Muslims, including many ethnic Peuls like Ibrahim. With the help of a Christian man on a motorcycle who risked his life by giving the boy a lift, Ibrahim arrived at the church early Monday.
“When we got to a checkpoint, the militia fighters told the man, ‘Leave the boy here and we will kill him’,” Ibrahim recounted softly. “But the man said, ‘If you are going to kill him, you must kill me too’ and then they let us pass.”
What is even more remarkable about Ibrahim’s story is that there are at least six other children under the age of 10 with a nearly identical story in Carnot. In the nearly three months since the country erupted in violence between Christians and Muslims, leaving many hundreds dead, children appear to be in many cases the only survivors.
The Peul are a nomadic community of herders who span West and Central Africa. They often travel great distances on foot — a habit that probably enabled these children to make the journey alone.
Many, like Ibrahim’s family, came under attack as they were fleeing west from violence earlier this month. The survivors are only now making their way to Carnot.
“Unfortunately after fleeing they fell upon a spot where violence also had erupted,” said Dramane Kone, project coordinator in Carnot for Doctors Without Borders, which has treated some of the children for malnutrition.
The refugees at the church may not be safe much longer.
The armed Christian gangs outside the concrete-walled compound have ordered them to leave the country within a week or face death. The fighters have brought in gasoline and threatened to burn the church to the ground.
Ibrahim was brought to the church after the man on the motorcycle hid the boy in his home for several days. Scores of fellow Peul came to hear what news the youngster had brought from the countryside, gathering around him as he wolfed down a bowl of porridge.
Sitting on a bench outside the priest’s quarters, his tiny legs too short to touch the ground, the boy seemed overwhelmed by the attention and pulled the hood of his adult-size gray sweatshirt tight around his tiny bird-like face.
The other refugees gave him what coins they had so that he could pay someone to cook meals for him at the mission. The priests said he is welcome as long as he likes, though he was clearly on his own in a sea of strangers.
Around 10:30 on a recent night, a distressed Cameroonian peacekeeper knocked on the church door to wake up the priests. A little Muslim girl who didn’t know how old she was had turned up in the center of town, barefoot and shaken. The priests emerged in their pajamas to bring her inside.
Habiba, believed to be about 7, saw anti-Balaka militants kill her parents and her brothers, she whispered to a priest. They asked her where she came from: Her village was more than 80 kilometers away by foot.
Two men who had lost young daughters arrived at the door, then quickly shook their heads in disappointment. She was not theirs. No one knew who she was.
One of the women from the church offered her water and some dinner leftovers of manioc and beef. At first she refused but then began to pick at the meat once she was assured it was not pork.
On Sunday just before Mass, four more new arrivals gathered on the steps of the church. One child was inconsolable and sobbed against a tree as other little boys tried to cheer him up.
Ten-year-old Nourou said he spent two days being hidden by Christians, who then brought him to the church. Tears rolled down his face, some of them spilling from a crusted eye badly wounded in an anti-Balaka attack. His legs were so spindly he could barely stand.
Beside him was another Peul boy named Ahamat, believed to be about 8. He couldn’t say for sure how many days he had spent walking or when he last ate. The Muslim men who welcomed him asked about his village and then shook their heads in disbelief. It is some 300 kilometers away.
“My mother and father were killed along the way, but I kept going,” he said.
When he heard motorcycles on the road, he would hide in the woods. When the roads were empty, he just kept walking, asking anyone he could where he could find the peacekeepers who were guarding Muslims.
By the end of their first day at the church, Ahamat, Nourou and Ibrahim had formed a band of brothers, brought together by sorrow.
At night they cry for their mothers on a well-worn mattress. During the day, they play in the dirt with the other boys and chase each other around the courtyard.
A community leader shaved their heads to indicate they are in mourning for their parents, making them nearly indistinguishable with their little old man faces and knobby knees.
In some cases, the children arriving in Carnot were saved by the most unlikely of people. It was an armed anti-Balaka militiaman who brought several of the boys to the church after spotting them on the edge of town.
“He left them at the door and just said that he felt sorry for the poor boys,” said the priest, the Rev. Justin Nary. “Apparently he had a heart.”
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The violence wracking Central African Republic imperils the future of the country’s Muslims, with thousands having been slaughtered and many more fleeing the country.
Bangui, the capital, is engulfed in an orgy of bloodshed and looting.
“We are in a moment where immediate action is needed to stop the killings,” Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch told The Associated Press, calling for a full-fledged United Nations peacekeeping mission. “Otherwise the future of the Muslim community of this country will be gone.”
Muslims make up about 15 percent of Central African Republic’s 4.6 million people. More than 800,000 people have fled their homes —about half of those from the capital, according to the United Nations.
“There are some who don’t want Muslims in this country,” Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke said on local radio Saturday. “But when the Muslims have left the country, what happens next? The Protestants will throw out the Catholics, and then the Baptists against the Evangelists, and finally the animists? It is time we regain control and stop ourselves from plunging into an abyss.”
Thousands of Muslims left Bangui in a massive convoy Friday that was jeered by crowds of Christians. One Muslim who fell off a truck was quickly was quickly killed by the mob. Muslim women who could not get on the trucks tried to hand their children to strangers aboard the vehicles. Whole neighborhoods are abandoned and Muslims who cannot leave are hiding inside mosques that have not already been set ablaze or destroyed by angry crowds.
Entire Muslim communities also have left towns in the rural northwest, sometimes only to come under attack from Christian militiamen and die while trying to get out of the anarchic country.
Across a wide stretch of northwest Central African Republic, Christian militiamen known as the anti-Balaka (or anti-machete) have driven tens of thousands of Muslims out of the area. Many are seeking refuge in Chad or Cameroon, as there are few corners of Central African Republic where Muslims are an outright majority.
The violence against the Muslims is in reaction to abuses perpetrated by the Muslim Seleka rebels during their 10-month rule that began last March. Seleke fighters tied their victims together and threw them off bridges to drown or be eaten by crocodiles, according to witnesses. Now that Seleka’s leader Michel Djotodia stepped down from the presidency last month and a precarious civilian interim government is in charge, it is the country’s Muslim minority that is now under assault.
No one knows the true death toll from two months of the worst inter-communal violence in this country’s history: It is often too dangerous for crews to recover the corpses. More than 1,000 were killed during several days of fighting in early December, when a Christian militia attempted to overthrow the Muslim rebel government then in power.
A preliminary investigation into potential war crimes or crimes against humanity has been opened, Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Friday.
Babacar Gaye, the U.N.’s special representative to Central African Republic, has called for the murderers to be held accountable. Yet in a country where police officers long ago fled their jobs and courthouses are shuttered and looted, it’s not even clear where to begin.
Central African Republic was already one of the world’s poorest and most lawless countries even before the March 2013 coup by Muslim rebels from the north plunged the nation into deeper crisis. When the extra French troops first arrived in early December, more than 100,000 people sought refuge at the airport they guarded in the hope it would keep them safe. That displacement camp has become a city within a city now dubbed “The Ledger” after the city’s sole five-star luxury hotel.
French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio on Thursday the military is likely to extend its mission in Central African Republic beyond the U.N.-mandated six-month mission.
“We are going to avoid the worst,” Le Drian said. “By our presence we can lower tensions on the ground, to pave the way for a peaceful political transition.”
That still seems like a distant goal in Central African Republic, a country with a long history of coups, rebellions and failed peace agreements. Given the unprecedented nature of the violence, no one can say how this all will end.
In the lawless capital, a 19-year-old Muslim woman in the Kokoro neighborhood said a group of armed men this week had come to her house after midnight crying “It’s you Muslims!”
“They gave us a minute to come to the living room or else they threatened to throw a grenade,” she said. “Four of them ripped my clothes off and raped me one by one. Another raped my sister, who is only 14 years old. They asked where our father had hid weapons in the house and we told him we didn’t have any.
“After that, I cannot say that the situation is improving for us,” she said. “We are Muslims, yes, but we are also Central Africans. Where will we go? We were born here. This is our country.”
Associated Press writer Hippolyte Marboua in Bangui, Central African Republic contributed to this report.
This is Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 file photo of Central African Republic President Michel Djotodia, left, shakes hands with assembled dignitaries as he departs for Chad, at Mpoko Airport in Bangui, Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS
By ABUBAKAR MOHAMMED and KRISTA LARSON
N’DJAMENA, Chad (AP) — Michel Djotodia, the rebel leader who seized control of Central African Republic only to see the desperately poor country tumble toward anarchy and sectarian bloodshed, agreed to resign Friday along with his prime minister, regional officials announced.
There has been growing pressure for Djotodia to step aside and the resignation should help placate the armed militias who have used to violence to seek his ouster. However, his departure could also create an even greater power vacuum in a land that has long known coups and dictatorship.
Ahmat Allami, the secretary-general of the Economic Community of Central African States, made the announcement following a summit in neighboring Chad on the crisis. Legislators from Central African Republic also were flown to the Chadian capital of N’Djamena on Thursday to take part in the discussions.
Djotodia’s departure leaves the country in the hands of a weak transitional government. Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, a longtime opposition leader prior to the March 2013 coup, is also stepping aside, Allami said.
Central African Republic has long been one of the world’s most unstable countries. The March 2013 coup brought heavily armed rebels to power who then proceeded to carry out atrocities against civilians. The rebels are mostly from the minority Muslim population and hail from the country’s long-marginalized north, and the resentment toward their abuses transformed the conflict into one with religious undertones.
In early December, a Christian militia backed by loyalists of ousted President Francois Bozize attacked the capital. In the violent aftermath, more than 1,000 people were killed and nearly 1 million fled their homes in fear. An estimated 100,000 people alone have sought shelter at the airport being guarded by French troops.
Former colonizer France has sent some 1,600 troops in an effort to stabilize the country and an African peacekeeping force has provided thousands of additional soldiers. However, violence continues to wrack the capital of Bangui. Muslims who are suspected of collaborating with Djotodia’s rebellion have been stoned to death in the streets and their bodies mutiliated.
By KRISTA LARSON
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Dozens of young men stood waiting for storm clouds to pass, as wind stirred up swirls of red dust on the largely deserted street in Central African Republic’s capital. Through the drizzle, they spotted a man in a flowing white robe traditionally worn by Muslims, hand-in-hand with his adolescent son.
The style of dress was enough to confirm that this was their enemy.
Hungry for revenge, the crowd descended upon the pair. The man’s terrified son broke away, and fled on foot, abandoning his father as the knife-wielding mob clutched the middle-aged man.
Muslim rebels known as Seleka overthrew the government of this majority Christian nation nine months ago, sparking mounting sectarian violence that prompted former colonizer France last week to deploy troops to Bangui in an effort to stop the bloodshed.
In a city where more than 400 people died last week in two days of tit-for-tat violence between Christians and Muslims, it was clear Monday there is still enough pent-up rage left that a crowd will try to kill a man on sight.
The angry mob insisted their victim served as a general in the rebel movement accused of carrying out atrocities against the nation’s Christian population, including tying victims together and throwing them off bridges to drown. “Seleka! Seleka! Seleka!” screamed the men as they encircled the Muslim man in a tornado of anger.
In this case, French forces intervened just in time, firing into the air as a warning. “I am a merchant! I am a merchant!,” the man cried as the French pulled him away, his back covered in dirt and his gown ripped off. His tearful son came back, his white shirt covered in blood, and the French ferried them to safety.
Other Muslims were not as fortunate. In the Benzvi neighborhood, a mob descended upon two ex-Seleka leaders leaving their home Monday afternoon. One got away. The crowd took up the only weapons they had against the other, witnesses said.
“People picked up rocks from the ground and stoned him to death,” said Junior Dagdag, 28, pointing to the pool of blood and stones in the middle of the road, where the victim’s car burned and smoke plumed into the sky. “Some brought his body to the hospital while others set his car on fire.”
The latest round of violence began Thursday, when armed Christian fighters who oppose the ex-Seleka forces in power attacked the capital and were later repelled by the ex-rebels.
Already 1,600 French forces are on the ground. French helicopters buzzed overhead while dozens of military vehicles, including armored personnel carriers, snaked through neighborhoods where tensions ran high. French forces came under attack near the airport but the area was later secured.
President Michel Djotodia had demanded that the fighters who brought him to power remain in their barracks Monday so that French forces and African troops from a regional peacekeeping mission could secure the city. Fed-up Christians sought to enforce the law themselves, chasing anyone they suspected as being part of Seleka — even in civilian clothing — off of the streets.
Emmanuel Yakanga, 53, a Christian, said he walked by a group of Christians harassing some men they accused of being Seleka and that he understands their anger. Even as ex-Seleka elements promised to disarm and hand over their weapons to the French, Christian neighborhoods are coming under attack nightly, he said. Yakanga’s 17-year-old niece was fatally shot on Thursday, he said.
“This talk of disarmament is merely superficial. They’re just going to keep their weapons elsewhere,” Yakanga said of the ex-Seleka.
In the months since he seized power, it has become clear that Djotodia wields little control over the rebels who now see themselves as the country’s national army. Over the weekend, Djotodia acknowledged his lack of power, telling reporters that not even “an angel from the sky” could govern his troubled nation now.
Central African Republic has suffered decades of dictatorship, coups and rebellions that have kept the diamond-rich country in many ways frozen in time since its independence from France in 1960. Life expectancy was a mere 48 years even before the latest humanitarian crisis, and aid officials warn an untold number of people forced to flee deep into the bush are dying of malaria and other illnesses.
The latest spasm of violence, however, is horrific even by the standards of the broken nation.
As Muslims came under attack across the city, a Christian man in another part of the capital nearly lost his life to a fearful and angry Muslim mob.
Crowds said they spotted Sincere Banyodi, 32, as he made his way through the Kokoro 3 neighborhood and feared he was a member of the Christian militia known as anti-balaka, which has carried out massacres of Muslim civilians.
“This guy was walking through our neighborhood with two grenades. We asked him where he was from and he couldn’t tell us. The people caught him and attacked him, but then decided to turn him over to the French instead of killing him,” said Ali Moussa Terab, who was standing in the crowd.
Banyodi, who was identified by a friend, sat with pieces of cloth tied around his machete wounds on both arms, his pants soaked in blood. He said nothing, not responding to questions as he sat alone in front of a cluster of shops. Half a dozen armed French forces kept the large crowd swirling nearby at bay.
Even as French troops patrolled, some residents said they doubted the intervention would hold. Muslim resident Abdel Wahid, 32, and his friends said they heard rumors the Christian militia fighters were regrouping in the countryside. Despite the clear danger on the streets, they said, this was the calm before the storm.
“Why should Seleka have to turn over their weapons? They are the national army,” Wahid said. “After the French leave, things will explode.”
By KRISTA LARSON
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Fighting came to the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, leaving dozens of casualties and posing the biggest threat yet to the new government just as the U.N. Security Council authorized an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims.
Thursday’s fighting was the most significant attack in the capital since a rebel coalition called Seleka seized power in March. Underscoring the chaos, even the president’s and prime minister’s homes were looted.
Hours later, the U.N. Security Council authorized increased military action Thursday by France and African troops to try to end near-anarchy in the highly volatile former French colony.
The council unanimously approved the French-sponsored resolution. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who had warned that the Central African Republic is on “the verge of genocide,” and said military intervention would unfold swiftly, telling BFM-TV that the French deployment would total around 1,200, with 600 troops already in place.
At least 16 people were killed and 45 were wounded in Thursday’s violence, said Sylvain Groulx of Doctors Without Borders. There could be many more bodies though — Groulx said the death toll consisted only of bodies taken to two hospitals in Bangui.
People scurried indoors, including some who sought sanctuary inside a church. By afternoon, the streets were empty of all but military vehicles and the four-wheel-drive pickup trucks favored by the rebel soldiers who in March claimed control of the government.
The fighting was between the mostly Muslim fighters who now control the impoverished nation and Christians who support its ousted president.
Hours after fighting broke out, Central African Republic’s president, who was installed by Seleka earlier this year, said the clashes were over.
Inside a Bangui hospital, dozens of people with gunshot wounds lay on the floor or on wooden benches, waiting for hours to see a physician.
Prime Minister Nicholas Tiangaye confirmed his house had been looted, describing the attackers as a group of Seleka who arrived in three four-wheel-drive pickup trucks.
“It’s true, my house was attacked and pillaged,” he said, adding that his family was evacuated beforehand and were safe.
Babacar Gaye, the U.N. special representative for the Central African Republic, appealed for calm in a joint statement from the U.N., European Union, African Union and France.
Seleka is an unlikely group of allies who united a year ago with the goal of forcing President Francois Bozize from the presidency after a decade in power. After thousands of rebels besieged Bangui in March, Bozize fled and the insurgents installed their leader Michel Djotodia as president.
Djotodia has increasingly sought to distance himself from Seleka which has been blamed for scores of atrocities in Bangui, killing and raping civilians and stealing from aid groups and orphanages. He has even less control in the distant provinces where anger over Seleka human rights abuses fueled the formation of the Christian anti-balaka movement several months ago. Balaka means “machete.”
While the anti-balaka fighters include villagers defending their communities against Seleka attacks with artisanal hunting rifles and machetes, the group is believed to be receiving support Bozize allies. The anti-balaka fighters also have been implicated in massacres on Muslim civilian populations, which also have suffered under the Seleka regime and say they are being unfairly blamed for Seleka’s wanton destruction.
The death toll has been impossible to estimate in Central African Republic, a lawless and desperately poor country in the heart of Africa where many roads have not been repaved since independence from France in 1960.
The U.N. Security Council resolution authorizes the deployment of an African Union-led force to Central African Republic for a year to protect civilians and restore security and public order. The AU force is replacing a regional peacekeeping mission whose presence has been mainly limited to the capital and a few northern cities.
The U.N. resolution also authorizes French forces, for a temporary period, “to take all necessary measures” to support the AU-led force known as MISCA, whose troop numbers are expected to rise from about 2,500 to 3,500.
Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Lori Hinnant and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.
By EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS — UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Indescribable atrocities are being committed against innocent civilians in the collapsing Central African Republic where Muslim and Christian fighters have started attacking each other’s followers, a top U.N. humanitarian official said Tuesday.
John Ging said the new religious dimension to the conflict in the multiethnic country has instilled “incredible fear” among civilians and “is inciting both communities against each other.”
“We are seeing the seeds of a profoundly dangerous development between communities,” the director of U.N. humanitarian operations said. “It’s a tinderbox that can ignite into something very, very big and very, very bad.”
Ging appealed to community and religious leaders to be very careful in what they say to avoid adding to the incitement.
“The situation is fast-moving … and that’s why we want to see (it) … brought under control very, very quickly rather than let it run out of control which it is at the moment,” he said.
One of the world’s poorest countries with a long history of chaos and coups, Central African Republic has been in turmoil since a coalition of rebel groups joined forces to overthrow the president in March and put their leader in charge. Since seizing power, the rebels have plunged the country into a state of near-anarchy. They have also been accused by human rights groups of committing scores of atrocities, of widespread looting, killings, rapes and conscription of child soldiers.
Ging, who recently returned from a visit to the beleaguered country, said over half the country’s 4.6 million people need humanitarian assistance, including food, water and sanitation.
“The scale of humanitarian suffering is among the worst in the world – and it’s getting worse,” he said.
Ging said the transitional government has good intentions but doesn’t have the means or resources to bring the situation under control “and that’s why the international community has to step in in a very large way to help.”
“The number one issue today is protection, and the atrocities that are being committed against the civilian population are indescribable,” Ging said, citing reports of mutilations, rapes and torture.
On Oct. 10, the U.N. Security Council unanimously backed a new African Union peacekeeping force and demanded swift implementation of a political transition leading to free and fair elections in less than 18 months.
The council said it intends to consider options to support the AU force, which was established in July and has about 1,900 troops.
Central African Republic borders some of the most tumultuous countries on the continent including Congo and Sudan, and some diplomats have expressed concern that even at full strength of 3,600 troops the AU force would not be large enough to deploy beyond key cities to rural areas where there is also great instability.
By Gabe Joselow
Bouca, Central African Republic — Recent inter-religious fighting in the Central African Republic has raised tensions between communities and has threatened the rebel-led government. The town of Bouca, which was left in ruins following an attack targeting Muslims a week ago.
The fighting started at 5 a.m., at the time of morning prayers. Those who survived say the killers came from within their own community.
Entire families were murdered, at least 40 people total. Hundreds of homes were burned in just a few hours.
Resident Mandera Liman said he ran to get a gun to defend his family, but was too late. “I heard them yelling ‘Kill him, kill the Muslim.’ They came, they took my father and they killed him here,” he said.
Bozize link alleged
The attacks were blamed on militia loyal to former president Francois Bozize, ousted in March by the Muslim Seleka rebel movement. Last month, Seleka installed the country’s first Muslim president to lead a political transition.
People here say Muslims and Christians had lived in peace together until the most recent fighting.
Seleka authorities believe the anti-Muslim violence is an orchestrated attempt by followers of the former president to try to create divisions and weaken the transitional government.
Seleka soldiers re-took control of Bouca in the days that followed the attack.
They say the types of weapons they seized prove the assailants were former army and presidential guard.
Seleka Colonel Djibrine Dagacher blames the community in Bouca for harboring the attackers. “On Sunday night, the rebels came into the town and slept in people’s homes. So the population that is here is complicit with the rebels,” he said.
Some of those displaced by the fighting say reprisal attacks against Christians already have begun.
The rising tension forced the medical aid organization MSF [Doctors Without Borders] to suspend its emergency operations in Bouca on Sunday.
Head of Mission for MSF-Spain, Sylvain Groulx said, “We have a feeling that right now the authorities in place cannot ensure the security of our patients or our staff, and we’ve had to pull out our teams today.”
The atrocities committed in Bouca are part of a larger trend across the Central African Republic.
Many worry that if sectarian violence escalates, it will drag the country further into chaos.