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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora