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UN Urges CAR to Probe Sectarian Attack

  • VOA News

A mother holds her child while attempting to take cover as repeated gun shots are heard close to Miskine district during continuing sectarian violence in the capital Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 28, 2014.
The United Nations envoy to the Central African Republic has condemned the killing of a suspected rebel in a vicious mob attack, and it has urged the government to make an "example" of those responsible.

Babacar Gaye commented on Thursday, a day after witnesses said soldiers helped beat and stabbed the man, before dragging his body through a street in Bangui.

The attack occurred shortly after interim President Catherine Samba-Panza wrapped up a speech in the capital, in which she praised the military for its efforts to regroup and reform following a 2013 coup.

Gaye said the attack shows the C.A.R. urgently needs a functioning judicial system that can support the efforts of MISCA, the African-led support mission to the country.

In a VOA interview, he also said the government needs international support in efforts to stabilize the country.

"It is now time for action for the sake of saving this country from the chaos from which was unfortunately imposed by those who were ruling it previously," said Gaye.

Witnesses said the attackers suspected the man belonged to the Seleka rebel movement that overthrew President Francois Bozize last March.

Television video showed a man stomping on an almost naked and lifeless body, with soldiers nearby.

Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert was attending the ceremony where Samba-Panza spoke, and saw the attack. In a VOA interview, Bouckaert said African peacekeepers were nearby but did not initially intervene. "They were, I believe, afraid of the massive mob of thousands of uniformed soldiers who were at the scene and this absolute scene of carnage in front of their eyes," he said.

The attack is an indication of the tensions between the C.A.R.'s Muslims and Christians since Bozize's ouster. Much of the fighting since his departure has been between Muslim ex-Seleka forces and mostly Christian "anti-Balaka" militias.

Bouckaert said some of those involved appeared to be anti-Balaka members.

The attack also was condemned by France, which has 1,600 peacekeepers in the C.A.R.

In a Thursday interview on French radio, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the U.N. probably would extend the country's six-month mandate in the C.A.R. when it ends in May.