News / Africa

Mob Attacks in CAR as Muslims Flee Bangui

A crowd runs for cover as African Union (AU) peacekeeping soldiers fire warning shots to disperse a crowd near the district of Miskine in Bangui, Feb. 7, 2014.
A crowd runs for cover as African Union (AU) peacekeeping soldiers fire warning shots to disperse a crowd near the district of Miskine in Bangui, Feb. 7, 2014.
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VOA News
Witnesses say a mob attacked and killed a Muslim man who was trying to flee from the Central African Republic, while a Christian was fatally beaten by Muslims in a separate incident.

Both attacks took place in the capital, Bangui, on Friday, the same day an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor announced she had opened a preliminary probe into alleged "atrocities" in the CAR.

Witnesses say the Muslim man was fatally attacked after he fell off a truck that was part of a convoy carrying thousands of Muslims to neighboring Chad, a predominately Muslim country.

They say the attackers mutilated the man's body. Christian militia members tried to attack a second vehicle but were repelled by Burundian soldiers who are part of an African peacekeeping force in the CAR.

In a VOA interview, Doctors Without Borders emergency coordinator Martine Flokstra said another mob attack, allegedly involving Muslims, took place elsewhere in Bangui on Friday.

"Today has been quite a rocky day in Bangui," she said. "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."

Last March, the Muslim Seleka rebel movement overthrew President Francois Bozize.  Much of the violence in the CAR since then has been between ex-Seleka fighters and mostly Christian "anti-Balaka" militias.

On Wednesday, a mob in Bangui killed a man suspected of being a Muslim rebel before dragging his body through a street. Witnesses said CAR soldiers took part in the attack.

Flokstra says the incidents are evidence of rising tensions between Christians and Muslims, following Bozize's ouster.

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

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says she has opened a preliminary investigation into "serious crimes" in the CAR that could fall under the court's jurisdiction.

In a Friday statement, 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.

On Friday, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said over the past ten days, nearly 9,000 people of various nationalities had crossed into Cameroon from the CAR.

Many of the new arrivals told UNHCR staff members they fled because of confrontations between ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has been involved in efforts to evacuate non-CAR 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 CAR but, so far, has received only $2.5 million.

  • Chadian troops escort thousands of Muslim residents who are fleeing Bangui and Mbaiki, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • Armed men drive with thousands of Muslim residents from Bangui and Mbaiki fleeing the Central African Republic capital Bangui, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A Christian crowd cheers as thousands of Muslim residents from Bangui and Mbaiki flee the Central African Republic, escorted by Chadian troops, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • A crowd runs for cover as AU peacekeeping soldiers fire warning shots to disperse a crowd near Miskine, Bangui, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • People carry a man who was injured by a tear gas canister shot by AU peacekeeping soldiers to disperse a crowd near Miskine, Bangui, Feb. 7, 2014.
  • Newly enlisted Central African Armed Forces soldiers smile after listening to CAR Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza address the troops in Bangui, Feb. 5, 2014.
  • An anti-Balaka Christian militiaman holding a bow and arrow stands in, what days before, was a predominantly Muslim area of the Miskin district of Bangui, Feb. 4, 2014.
  • A Muslim owned fish shop stands looted in the Miskin district of Bangui, Feb. 4, 2014.
  • Girls walk in a monastery sheltering internally displaced persons in the district of Boy Rabe in Bangui, Feb. 4, 2014.
  • Men duck for cover as heavy gunfire erupts in the Miskin district of Bangui, Feb. 3, 2014.

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Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
February 07, 2014 11:13 AM
Reporting it as it is, isn't it? That seems what this reporter wants to portray. But this is what has been happening in Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Egypt where Christians are singled out for maltreatment. Now nobody - no reporter - has deemed it necessary to tell the whole world that Christians have been killed and their homes burnt in any of these incidents. In north of Nigeria Christians suffer daily arson, loss of properties and lives, yet VOA reporters have not found reason enough to tell us what has been happening. Question is, what makes this one special? Why is the "muslim killed" so blatantly reported in a way that is capable of raising a similitude of 'cartoon saga', a blasphemy in Egypt or Pakistan, the man with suicide turban round himself, or when someone refers to a religion that has inbuilt self destruction.

Whatever the reason here, it is just as well that someone somewhere deems it right to pay this people in their own coin - so that they taste how it feels being treated as wild animals for the slaughter. If what is happening in Central Africa Republic is bad, then let us collectively condemn every occasion of it - in Africa, in the Middle and Far East, Asia and everywhere. It cannot be condemned in CAR while in practice in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq (even if it's carried out by suspected terrorists), Qatar, Libya, Syria etc. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

In Response

by: Fita from: USA
February 09, 2014 7:34 AM
"it is just as well that someone somewhere deems it right to pay this people in their own coin - so that they taste how it feels being treated as wild animals for the slaughter." Sounds like something bin laden would say. This kind of thinking is exactly why Humanity is doomed. Everyone always believes their hatred is justified.

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