News / Africa

Who Are the Anti-Balaka of the CAR?

Who Are the Anti-Balaka of CAR?i
X
February 18, 2014 6:58 PM
Authorities in the Central African Republic have declared war on the anti-balaka. The militia are accused of carrying out horrific attacks against Muslim civilians that have forced tens of thousands to flee the county in the past month. VOA's Anne Look has this report.
Anne Look
Authorities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have declared war on the anti-balaka. The militia are accused of carrying out horrific attacks against Muslim civilians that have forced tens of thousands to flee the county in the past month.
 
Bands of young men - some armed with everything from machetes and homemade firearms to military-grade equipment - continue to roam the country. They call themselves the anti-balaka.
 
They are accused of slaughtering Muslim civilians as revenge for atrocities committed by the Muslim Seleka rebel coalition during its nine months in power.
 
Many say they came to the capital, Bangui, to fight Seleka in December and force out the government of Seleka leader, Michel Djotodia.
 
But international troops in CAR say they are "outlaws" as the movement devolved into looting and mob violence.
 
Some anti-balaka turned to setting up roadblocks on country roads - teenagers brandishing weapons and extorting money.
 
French and African troops are responding with force to disarm them.  Mediation could prove difficult. This loose federation of militia groups has several leaders claiming to speak on its behalf.  
 
Some say continued insecurity here is the work of "uncontrolled elements" and "fake anti-balaka."
 
Joachim Kokate represented the anti-balaka at a regional summit in January.
 
"It is the time for justice. We just need to target those organizing theft, looting and extrajudicial killings. They should be sought out, arrested and turned over to the authorities and they will answer for their acts," said Kokate.
 
Many anti-balaka tell VOA they want the same treatment Seleka rebels are getting. They want to be barracked, paid, fed and given the chance to join the national army as part of disarmament.
 
Some anti-balaka see themselves as liberators of the country.
 
The militia are recognizable by the talisman they wear.
 
In Bangui, anti-balaka member Emotion Namsio, points to the small wrapped pouches on necklaces that hang like thick garland around a fellow member's neck.
 
"See this, a Kalashinkov bullet," he said, "you could fire on him and it wouldn't go through. You could stab him and it wouldn't go through. And there are others. Grenades can't hurt us."
 
The conflict here has increasingly been cast as sectarian.
 
But the anti-balaka - made up of both animists and Christians - insist their mission is patriotic, not religious.
 
Their leaders say the anti-balaka number in the tens of thousands.
 
The movement has its roots in self-defense militias that have been around, primarily in the west, since the 1990s. They were locals' response to general lawlessness and state indifference.
 
Those militias were joined by ex-military loyal to former president Francois Bozize after he was ousted by Seleka last March.
 
French and African Union troops continue to recover large caches of weapons and munitions from the militia and have made some arrests.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs