World
African force declares war on C. Africa's 'anti-balaka' group
Publish Date: Mar 26, 2014
African force declares war on C. Africa's 'anti-balaka' group
An anti-balaka militiaman walks down a street of Bossambele, Central African Republic. AFP Photo
  • mail
  • img
newvision

 

Bangui (Central African Republic)  - The head of African peacekeepers in the Central African Republic said Wednesday that vigilante groups known as "anti-balaka" will be considered and treated as "enemies" from now on. 

The announcement by Congolese General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko followed days of fighting in which around 20 people died and peacekeepers were fired on in the former French colony.

"From now on, we consider the anti-balaka as enemies of (the African peacekeeping force) MISCA," Mokoko said in remarks carried by a private radio station. "And we will treat them as such."

"They even fire on people who are here to try to end this crisis on behalf of the Central African people to which they belong," the general said.

He said MISCA blames the majority Christian anti-balaka for attacks against the peacekeepers, who are working alongside French troops, to disarm both sides in a year of inter-religious violence in the impoverished majority-Christian nation.

Muslim residents of Bangui have been besieged for weeks by the anti-balaka as well as by looters in the PK-5 commercial district of the city.

Both French and African troops opened fire during the weekend fighting, according to military officials. Local residents said they shot dead eight members of the anti-balaka, including a militia leader.

Also Wednesday, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, arrived in Bangui at the start of a three-day visit to the capital and the northeast of the country, the ICRC said in a statement.

"Months of unprecedented armed conflict and inter-religious violence have caused a catastrophic humanitarian sitution," the statement said, noting that it has some 400 workers on the ground in the impoverished country.

Monday was the first anniversary of the toppling of Francois Bozize by mainly Muslim rebels of the Seleka movement led by Michel Djotodia.

The so-called "anti-balaka" militias were formed in response to killing and pillaging by the Seleka rebels who went rogue after the coup.

Anti-balaka means "anti-machete" in the local Sango language and refers to the weapon of choice wielded by the Seleka -- but also taken up by the vigilantes.

Thousands have been killed and around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people -- most of them Muslims -- displaced.

For those who have stayed at home, the situation has become "unbearable", emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, Peter Bouckaert, said Friday.

(AFP)

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
US announces
The United States on Wednesday announced a "historic" thaw in relations with Cuba, saying it would work to re-establish diplomatic ties with Havana and ease long-standing trade and travel sanctions....
Jeb latest Bush to launch US presidential bid
JEB Bush, son to one former US president and brother to another, threw his hat into the ring for the 2016 race...
Australia vows to unearth why
Australia''s government pledged Tuesday to determine why an Iranian-born Islamist with a history of extremism and violence was able to play out a "sick fantasy" by seizing hostages in a day-long siege....
Sydney cafe siege victims hailed as
Two hostages killed in a siege at a central Sydney cafe Tuesday were hailed as heroes "willing to lay down their lives so others might live" in a church service mourning their deaths....
Five flee as hostages held in Sydney cafe, Islamic flag held up
Five people ran out of a Sydney cafe where a gunman has taken hostages and displayed an Islamic flag against the window, witnesses and police said Monday, adding that no one has yet been harmed....
Hostages held inside Sydney cafe, Islamic flag held up
Terrified hostages cowered inside a cafe in central Sydney Monday with an Islamic flag displayed against a window, sparking a security lockdown in an area home to government and corporate headquarters....
What is causing the rise in Early child marriages?
Decaying social structures
Poor Education
None of the above
follow us
subscribe to our news letter