BANGUI: Around 60 people have been killed in sectarian clashes in Central African Republic between local militias and former rebels, witnesses and a local official said yesterday, as France increased pressure for international intervention.
The mineral-rich but impoverished nation has descended into chaos since mostly Muslim Seleka rebels from the north seized the capital Bangui in March, ousting President Francois Bozize.
Transitional President Michel Djotodia has dissolved the rebel group but his government’s failure to stem the violence has prompted Paris to lobby at the UN Security Council for international intervention to restore order.
Local militias, known as “anti-balaka” or anti-machetes, attacked a Seleka position in the mining village of Gaga, around 250km northwest of Bangui, on Monday, killing four ex-rebels before attacking Muslim civilians. The Seleka fighters retaliated against Christians in the village, witnesses said.
Seleka gunmen, many of them from neighbouring Chad and Sudan, have been accused repeatedly of desecrating churches and terrorising Christian communities. “We’re waiting for reinforcements in order to go there but the various accounts we’ve gathered from survivors coming from Gaga lead us to believe there are over 60 dead,” said Judicael Kama, a security official in Yaloke, a town 35km from Gaga.
Many of the injured were taken to Yaloke’s hospital. “The Seleka fighters went door to door. It was total terror,” Raymond Kitivo, wounded in the attack, said.