News / Africa

Tensions High in CAR Town of Kaga Bandoro

Local Red Cross workers move bodies from a mass grave at a military camp in the 200 Villas neighborhood of Bangui, Feb. 17, 2014.
Local Red Cross workers move bodies from a mass grave at a military camp in the 200 Villas neighborhood of Bangui, Feb. 17, 2014.
Anne Look
The Central African Republic remains gripped in tit-for-tat inter-communal violence that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since December.  In the northern town of Kaga Bandoro, tensions have been growing.
 
Overnight on February 13, a Christian named Medard was gunned down near his home.
 
He was laid out with a sheet covering him up to his closed eyes. His female relatives crouched at his side keening as his pregnant wife sat beside his head, her face tear-streaked, her expression shell-shocked.
 
Tensions High in CAR Town of Kaga Bandoroi
X
February 17, 2014 3:10 PM
The Central African Republic remains gripped in tit-for-tat inter-communal violence that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since December. VOA's Anne Look reports from the northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where tensions have been growing.

Outside the town of Kaga Bandoro, the anger was palpable as neighborhood young people dug his grave.
 
Some waved machetes, the only weapon they say they have. They said local Muslims killed him.
 
"We do not need Muslims here. We want the international community to help us find a solution right now. If the Muslims come out here, if the Seleka come out here, we will kill them," said Moussa Varakene, a local resident.
 
  • An African peacekeeping soldier stands guard as Red Cross workers move bodies from a mass grave at a military camp in Bangui, Feb. 17, 2014.
  • Peoples gather cassavas near the river Oubangui, a natural border between Central Africa Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo, in Bangui, Feb. 16, 2014.
  • African peace keeping soldiers check confiscated traditional weapons during a patrol in the pro-Christian area of Bangui, Feb. 15, 2014.
  • A man tries to prevent a photographer from taking pictures as angry young men argue with French soldiers in patrol in the pro-Christian area of Bangui, Feb. 15, 2014.
  • A street vendor stands near French soldiers in patrol in the pro-Christian area of Bangui, Feb. 15, 2014.

Another local, Jeannot Leger, said, "We are within our rights to revolt. This violence they want, we will go to the end."
 
On the way back to town, women and children are fleeing into the bush. A mother balanced a suitcase on her head as she herded her three children along. They said there could be trouble today. The shadowy figures of anti-balaka fighters could be seen in the forest near their camp on the edge of town.
 
There are several hundred anti-balaka militia at that camp. They say they oppose the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition and the Chadian MISCA troops, as the African Union peacekeeping force is called in the C.A.R. They accuse the Chadians of siding with Muslims.
 
The town was taken by Seleka back in December 2012, and several Seleka groups remain.
 
In the town itself, the market is shuttered. MISCA troops patrol and some Muslim residents are getting ready to head north to Chad.
 
Issa Dand Jumi took out his national identity card and pointed behind him in the direction of the cemetery where he said his father is buried. He said Muslims were fleeing for the moment but may return.
 
"We were born here but, now with this religious war, we are fleeing to Chad for refuge. If this divides the country, we will come back to our part," said Jumi.
 
Seleka members in town have said MISCA has told them to keep the peace. They say they will not act unless provoked.
 
"If the anti-balaka come into this town, we will finish with them," said Massoud Abakar, a Seleka sergeant.
 
Back in the Christian neighborhood, people said that they have received threats and don't feel safe going to the cemetery.
 
A Chadian MISCA commander came to meet with them and offered an escort. He told them his men are not taking sides.
 
Violence continues unabated. After the fifth murder this week, local authorities declared a curfew.
 
The mayor of Kaga Bandoro, Thomas Ndomete, looked on as young men loaded the body, wrapped in a tarp, into the back of the MISCA truck.
 
Mayor Ndomete said this recent spate of murders shows, "there are lots of weapons in town. We need immediate disarmament on all sides, everyone.  What worries me is I understand that the shopkeepers have guns as well."
 
Residents have said the town needs more international troops.
 
"We are not [secure]. We want the troops reinforced so we can be in peace," said Bagaza Herve, a resident.
 
MISCA soldiers escorted the body through town to the cemetery. Neighborhood youth followed on foot.
 
The body was lowered into the grave and dirt shoveled on top. A few young men stepped away and squatted low to the ground hunched over as they cry.
 
They don't linger at the burial site. MISCA troops escort them home, and the day finishes more or less in calm. Some French reinforcements arrive over the weekend. 
 
Alongside their MISCA counterparts, French troops are trying to mediate tensions.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: dan from: usa
February 21, 2014 3:05 AM
Its sad that black africans are killing each other for religions that they dont even practice, the so called anti balaka are people who believe in witchcraft and magic wich the bible does not permit and seleka rebels are thugs that dont practice islam so peaple who are making comments here need not to blame any culture or religion since both religions does not permitt the killing of innocent people. What is going on here are hatred based on ignorance poverty and so on, one can now say they are savages.

by: Joseph Effiong from: calabar - Nigeria
February 17, 2014 4:33 PM
What sort of poison is in Muslims/arabs bone marrow that they have to kill , caused violent , terrorise as antidotes for the satanic poison . Where you have arabs/muslims , there must be violent

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
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 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 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 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.

VOA Blogs