42 killed in Central African Republic
A factions of the Islamic Séléka rebel group has killed 42 people in an attacked on the predominantly Christian quarters of Bria, in the PK3 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, holding an estimated 100,000 people, 595 km from Bangui, in the Haute-Kotto province of the Central African Republic.
A reports said the victims were mostly women, one of them was pregnant, who were ambushed and hacked to death with machetes while returning from their farms. Many others had gunshot wounds. “All those women slaughtered! It is terrible,” lamented Gedeon, a refugee in the IDP camp. “The situation is very tense here.”
A source in Bria said that they “received information (the people) had been killed, but no-one had the courage to immediately go and look for their bodies. It was only two days later (on 7 September) that some youths went and retrieved the corpses… They brought them here and laid them in front of the MINUSCA (UN peacekeepers) office in the camp. They have since been buried.” The source added.
Though there is no claim of responsibility, sources said the suspected attackers are members of the Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC), a faction of the Islamic Seleka rebel group.
Violence has continued in the war torn Central African country despite the presence of UN peacekeepers. The town of Bria, hosting the largest IDP camp in the country, has experienced a number of violent attacks since August in clashes between the Islamic FPRC and Christian Anti-Balaka vigilantes.
A Church leader said “They (Islamist Seleka militia) don’t want to see any Christians here,’adding that ‘they say all Christians are Anti-Balaka, (‘Christian’ Militia) so if you are caught, you are gone.”
“Christians never go to town. If they do, they are threatened, arrested, and asked to pay fines before they are released. There is no way to move to town. They have barricaded all roads, and if you venture out, you are at your own peril. We Christians have nothing else to do, no food to eat, no place to go. We rely only on prayers. Please pray for us.” The Church leader added.
Najat Rochdi, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, expressed her sadness at the attacks saying, “we witness yet another tragedy against innocent civilians. I appeal to all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect civilians. Civilians are not a target and these despicable acts must stop.”
United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic MINUSCA Peacekeepers have been attacked and killed by rebel forces and have also been accused of complacency or they “tend to act as fire-fighters, waiting to count the death toll, despite the equipment – including aerial material – at their disposal” in the attacks against Christian communities in the country.
Hassan John is West Africa editor GCN and Priest of the Anglican