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

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
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 Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
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 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 Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs