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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/14/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Violence in African nation has worsened with resignation of president

Witnesses claim to have seen at least a dozen decomposed bodies at the military camp in the 200 Villas neighborhood of Bangui, in the Central African Republic. Bangui is where Seleka fighters have been stationed for several months. The corpses had apparently been stuffed into a large underground chamber, possibly a septic tank.

France has deployed around 1,600 troops to support an African Union peacekeeping force of 6,000 soldiers.

France has deployed around 1,600 troops to support an African Union peacekeeping force of 6,000 soldiers.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/14/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Banqui, Central African Republic, inter-religious fighting, Sleka


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It is not yet known who committed the killings. Head of the local Red Cross, Pastor Antoine Mboa Bogo says that his staff will return to the camp to determine the number of dead.

Violence in the Central African Republic or CAR has intensified ever since Seleka leader Michel Djotodia resigned as president last month under international pressure.

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"Ethnic-religious cleansing" in CAR remains a distinct possibly. CAR one of the African continent's poorest countries, has been gripped in turmoil ever since mainly Muslim rebels seized control last March. Over 50 percent of CAR's population is Christian, and inter-religious violence has become a daily fact of life here. At least a million people have been displaced in the fighting.

The withdrawal of Seleka troops from the country's south set the stage for reprisals by mostly Christian "anti-balaka" militia against Muslims.

France has deployed around 1,600 troops to support an African Union peacekeeping force of 6,000 soldiers.

On a visit to Bangui, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres called for a massive deployment of international peacekeepers to halt what he described as a "humanitarian catastrophe.

"There is an ethnic-religious cleansing taking place. It must be stopped," Guterres told reporters.

Mosques have been reduced to rubble and people have been dragged from their homes to be lynched.

According to Joanne Mariner of the rights group Amnesty, as many as 100,000 Muslims have fled north, redrawing the religious map of the country.

"We are asking to leave this country even if we have to walk. If there is security for a convoy, none of us wants to stay," Mahamate Anker said at a camp for displaced Muslims in Bangui where she is currently taking refuge.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had earlier appealed to France to send more troops and warned that the violence meant the de-facto partition of the country was "a distinct risk." A possible U.N. peacekeeping mission, requested by the country's new Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, would take time to deploy, he said.

Several Seleka commanders have already mooted the idea of dividing the country. But President Samba-Panza told a crowd in the town of Mbaiki, during her first trip outside Bangui as president, that she would not allow the republic to be broken up.

"I have addressed the population to bring to their attention the vague ideas of partition that some are harboring," she said. "I reaffirm my strong will to not cede a single inch of Central African territory."

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