News / Africa

Muslim Community Leaders Blast Peacekeepers in CAR

Map of Central African Republic
Map of Central African Republic
Nick Long
Four young Muslims were killed in the Central African Republic capital Bangui over the weekend, among them a son and a brother of an important community leader, the mayor of the city's 3rd Arrondissement, or district. Their friends and relatives are asking why international peacekeepers are not permanently stationed on the frontline between their community and a neighboring hostile district.

Grave diggers prepare the earth inside the compound of Atehirou Balladodo, the mayor of Bangui's third district. The bodies of the mayor's son and brother could not be buried at the Muslim cemetery because it is in the neighboring Boeing district, now controlled by hostile forces.

On Sunday, friends and relatives filed past the bodies, laid out on white sheets, and hundreds of people attended a brief religious ceremony outside the house.

Two other young men were also killed Saturday. All four were part of the Muslims' self-defense force. Balladodo says they were called out three times on Saturday to respond to threats.  

"The first attack was at 6 a.m., the second at 10:30 and at about 1:30 p.m., my boys went out again. African Union peacekeepers arrived on the scene for the first attack and so did the French peacekeepers, at 10 a.m., but they were not there when the third attack came - when the two boys died," said Balladodo.

A relative, Mahamadou Baba, said the French peacekeepers, known as Sangaris, should have responded more strongly.

"Sangaris were there and they were fired at by the anti-balaka militia and by ex-Central Africa army soldiers. They fired back and advanced to the Boeing district, and stayed in the area a couple of hours with their helicopters flying over, but I don't understand why the militia fighters weren't dislodged," said Baba.

"We're astonished," he said, "that there's no permanent presence of Sangaris, or of the African Union mission MISCA, on that side of our district, because that's the hotspot where most of the attacks come from."

There are only about 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims left in Bangui out of an estimated 150,000 before communal violence flared last year. And nearly all of them are forced to live in a ghetto, the so-called Kilometre Cinq area of the 3rd Arrondissement.

A spokesman for the French mission, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Mollard,said that while the Sangaris do not have a base in the 3rd Arrondissement, the mission has a permanent presence and has patrols there night and day. MISCA, he poineds out, does have a base in the district.

A MISCA officer acknowledged that their base is not on the side facing the Boeing district, which local people say is the front line.

Asked why the international forces are not permanently at this hotpoint, Lt. Col. Mollard said the C.A.R. is a country of rumors and while local people may perceive threats as coming from Boeing district, the attackers might in fact be from another district. He confirmed there has been a resurgence of tension in Bangui during the past few days.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs