BANGUI (AA) – At least 50 people were killed in confrontations between the predominantly Muslim seleka militia and the mainly Christian anti-balaka militia in Boda, a town southern Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, over the past three days, a member of the country’s National Transitional Council has said.
“The confrontations started on Wednesday and continued to rage until Friday,” Gaetan Roch Moloto A-Kenguemba said on Saturday. “The confrontations left at least 50 people dead,” he added.
He did not, however, mention the identities of the victims.
A-Kenguemba described Boda as a “distressed town”, noting that the town’s 15,000 Muslim residents and 25,000 non-Muslim residents had seen violence making a comeback to their town.
He said the violence was triggered by the recent killing of two boys, who were aged 14 and 15, by the anti-balaka militia.
“The two victims were out to collect woods to use in making a fire for warming,” A-Kenguemba said.
He added that the two boys were then captured and killed by anti-balaka members, triggering a retaliatory reaction from the seleka militia, which forced Christian and other non-Muslim residents to flee toward the bushes.
“Boda is a distressed town today,” A-Kenguemba said.
Since last year, the Central African Republic has been plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between Christian anti-balaka militiamen and Muslim seleka fighters.
Anti-Muslim violence escalated after the country’s president, Michel Djotodia, stepped down in January. He was replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian who had formerly served as mayor of capital Bangui.
Christians, who account for the majority of the country’s population, accuse Muslims of supporting former seleka rebels blamed for attacking Christian homes, looting property and carrying out summary executions.
Since last December, some 173,000 people have been internally displaced by sectarian violence while 37,000 others have fled to neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR).
Over 30,000 have reportedly sought refuge in the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, while Chad and Cameroon now host roughly 5,600 and 1,000 respectively, according to UNHCR figures.
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