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1,000 Muslims Reported Trapped in CAR Town

A medical aid group says nearly 1,000 people, most of them Muslim, are trapped and being threatened by militiamen in the western Central African Republic.

Doctors Without Borders says "anti-Balaka" militias recently seized control of Carnot, a town of about 45,000, and are searching for Muslim civilians who are either in hiding or have taken refuge at protected sites.

The group, known by its French acronym MSF, says anti-Balaka forces executed seven Muslim men at a house in Carnot last week and have tried on several occasions to attack patients or displaced people at the town's hospital.

It says anti-Balaka forces also seized a landing strip last Thursday as MSF tried to fly several wounded patients to Bangui for treatment.

Human rights groups have warned that the Christian and animist anti-Balaka groups are attempting to chase Muslims out of their communities in a form of "ethnic cleansing."



On a visit to Bangui Tuesday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the C.A.R. needs the same attention being given to Syria and South Sudan.

The country descended into chaos after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the president last March and went on a nationwide rampage of killing and looting. The anti-Balaka groups that sprung up have gone on the offensive, forcing Seleka to retreat.

Thousands of Central Africans are fleeing the country each day. The U.N. refugee agency said last week that recent arrivals in Cameroon spoke of "intense fighting" in Carnot and other western C.A.R. towns.

MSF has been active in Carnot since 2010. It says that since January 21, it has treated 69 wounded people in Carnot and recorded 18 deaths.

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