A girl discovered hiding in a dark corner of an abandoned house is believed the sole survivor of two massacres that recently devastated the Muslim quarter of a village west of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic where communal violence continues to rage after several months.
The human rights organization, Amnesty International, says the 11-year old Muslim girl was found crouched in a corner of her family’s home, traumatized and weak from going without food or water for four days. Her parents and neighbors were dead.
Her rescuer was Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty International senior crisis response adviser. Rovera told VOA she had gone to the town of Bouguere - about 155 miles west of Bangui - to investigate reports of a January 24 massacre in which thousands in the town had died. However, Rovera soon realized a second massacre had been committed.
Any Muslims who survived the first attack and did not flee the town were apparently being targeted in second attack which occurred a week ago.
“There were bodies literally littering the streets,” says Rovera. “Some of them were burned. Some of them were mutilated. I saw two that were being chewed on by dogs. The bodies had been left in the streets, in the Muslim quarter of the town, which is where most of the killings happened. And the homes were either burned or thoroughly ransacked.”
As she walked from house to house, Rovera saw bodies. In one house she saw the bodies of two women and a baby she thought was six or seven months old. The baby had no visible injuries but was lying face down, leading Rovera to think that perhaps the infant died after getting lost looking for his own parents who may have tried to flee their killers.
“And then in one of the abandoned houses, I found a little girl, age about eleven, who was crouching in a corner, in the dark,” Rovera says. “She had not eaten or drunk for the previous four days - it seems the day of the massacre. And she was so weak that she couldn’t even stand up.”
Rovera asked others in the neighborhood about the girl.
“I understand from other residents of the town that her father was killed on the 10th of February, the day of the most recent massacre. Her mother had been killed during the previous massacre.”
Other villagers told Rovera she should take the girl out of the village because she is the only survivor in the town’s Muslim neighborhood.
Rovera said she had found a safe place far from Bouguere where she will receive care. Amnesty and other organizations are looking for living relatives of Bouguere’s surviving Muslim.