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Mob Attacks in C.A.R. ; Muslims Flee Bangui

A mob attacked and killed a Muslim man Friday who was part of a convoy of thousands of Muslims attempting to flee the Central African Republic.

The attack took place in the capital, Bangui. Witnesses say Christians took part in the attack, which occurred after the man fell off of a truck that was part of a convoy.

They say the attackers mutilated the man's body. A reporter in Bangui told VOA that Christians also jeered and threw stones at the frightened Muslims who were trying to make their way to neighboring Chad, a predominately Muslim country.

Doctors Without Borders emergency coordinator Martine Flokstra says another mob attack, allegedly involving Muslims, took place elsewhere in Bangui on Friday.

"Today has been quite a rocky day in Bangui. There has been another occasion near the transit camp. A man was lynched, and that was the opposite way around. So, somebody was seen as being a member of anti-Balaka and he got lynched by a group of Muslim men. So, we see it from both sides."

The incidents come two days after a mob in the capital killed a man suspected of being a Muslim rebel before dragging his body through a street. Witnesses said C.A.R. soldiers took part in the attack.

In a VOA interview, Flokstra said the incidents are evidence of rising tensions between Christians and Muslims, following last year's ouster of President Francois Bozize.

"The situation is completely escalated. The Seleka, now the ex-Seleka, were doing a lot of violence against the Christian population. Now, it seems there is a retaliation going on."

The Muslim Seleka rebel movement overthrew Mr. Bozize in March. Much of the violence in the C.A.R. since then has been between ex-Seleka fighters and mostly Christian "anti-Balaka" militias.

In another development, an International Criminal Court prosecutor announced she had opened a preliminary investigation into "serious crimes" in the C.A.R that could fall under the court's jurisdiction.

In a Friday statement, Fatou Bensouda said the plight of civilians in the country had "gone from bad to worst" since September 2012.

Bensouda said her office is reviewing reports of alleged atrocities that include killings, rapes and torture.

The U.N. humanitarian agency says nearly 900 people have been killed in Bangui alone since violence escalated in early December. The U.N. also says more than 800,000 people have been displaced.

The International Organization for Migration , which has been involved in efforts to evacuate non-C.A.R. citizens from Bangui says it may have to discontinue its rescue flights.

The group says it needs $17.5 million for its humanitarian efforts in the C.A.R. but, so far, has received only $2.5 million.


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