Sectarian violence has flared in the Central African Republic leaving at least 20 villagers dead in a remote village. UN peacekeepers have been dispatched to quell some of the worst bloodshed in months.
The Central African Republic's presidency says 26 villagers were killed Saturday after a Muslim majority rebel faction systematically murdered civilians from a rival Christian group in the village of Ndomete.
"The Seleka (rebels) went door to door," presidential spokesman Albert Mokpeme told the Reuters news agency. "The village chief was among the victims … It was a massacre."
Violence pitting the mainly Muslim Seleka fighters against rival Christian anti-Balaka militia members started Friday where the massacre occurred, before fighting spread to surrounding towns and villages.
The country's UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, dispatched troops to the area to separate the two rival factions. It said in a statement that it was reinforcing its positions in and around Kaga-Bandoro and stepping up patrols in an effort to protect civilians and prevent further violence.
"MINUSCA regrets the loss of human life and the wounded that were recorded and also denounces attacks against the humanitarian community and United Nations personnel," it said, without elaborating.
Resource-rich country rife with conflict
The Central African Republic, which is rich in minerals and metals including uranium, gold and diamonds, suffered its worst crisis in its half-century of statehood in 2013 when Seleka rebels toppled then-President Francois Bozize.
Christian militias responded by attacking Muslims, causing a fifth of the population to flee their homes and dividing the impoverished nation along ethnic and religious lines.
Faustin-Archange Touadera - a former premier - won February's presidential election. But deep divisions remained and the election failed to bring stability. Rebels and militia fighters still stalk much of the country outside the capital.
jar/ (Reuters, AFP)