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Militia violence leaves scores dead in CAR

May 17, 2017

Violence between Christian and Muslim militia in rural areas threatens a tenuous calm in bigger cities in the CAR. An attack by Christian militias over the weekend killed at least 115 people.

Zentralafrikanische Republik UN Soldaten
Image: Reuters/B. Ratner

At least 115 people were killed in ethnic and religiously fueled violence in southeastern town of Bangassou in the Central African Republic (CAR) over the weekend, the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

The mainly Christian anti-Balaka militia attacked civilians and a UN office in the town bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, before being pushed back by UN peacekeepers and airstrikes.

More than 3,000 people were forced to flee into neighboring Congo, joining at least 15,000 other civilians displaced in fighting in more remote areas over the past week.

Six UN peacekeepers have also been killed in the past week.

Militias in Central African Republic

The violence comes after anti-Balaka and mostly Muslim Seleka militia fighting spread to the northern town of Bria on Monday and Tuesday, leaving at least five dead and nearly two dozen wounded. 

On Tuesday, the UN said it was trying to verify that some 100 people may have been killed in fighting between May 7-9 in the town of Alindao.

Excluding the most recent violence, at least 121 people have been killed since March, according to the UN.

CAR descended into brutal violence between Muslim and Christian militia in 2013 after  mainly Muslim Seleka fighters ousted then-President Francois Bozize.

This triggered anti-balaka reprisal killings against Muslims.

Thousands have been killed and tens of thousands more displaced.

The UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, has about 10,000 troops and 2,000 police in one of the world's poorest countries.

The UN has warned that relative calm in the capital Bangui and other larger towns could be undermined by a spike in sectarian violence in rural areas.

cw/rc (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)