Rebel fighters and armed Muslim civilians have killed “many” PEOPLE in an attack on a church compound in the Central African Republic where thousands of civilians had taken refuge, Catholic Church officials said.
Monday’s attack in Bambari, 236 miles northeast of the capital Bangui, came just a day before French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was due to visit the town, where a grenade attack injured seven French soldiers last week. Church officials said fighters from the Seleka rebel movement and armed civilians from the town’s Muslim community entered St. Joseph’s Cathedral around 3 pm. (1400 GMT).
The Central African Republic was convulsed by more religious violence on Thursday after Muslim insurgents raided a church filled with thousands of refugees and killed at least 11 people. The attack on Notre Dame church in the capital, Bangui, was the bloodiest assault on Christians since January. Muslim rebels burst inside the compound, throwing hand grenades and firing machine-guns. Dozens of people were wounded.
A UN Security Council committee is set to impose sanctions on Central African Republic’s former President Francois Bozize and two other men linked to the country’s conflict after China and Russia withdrew their objections to the move, diplomats said.
It will be the first time anyone linked to the crisis has been blacklisted since a UN sanctions regime for Central African Republic was set up in December. A formal announcement by the Security Council’s sanctions committee is expected on Monday, the diplomats said.
A deadly cycle of sectarian violence is escalating in eastern parts of the Central African Republic. Scores of civilians have been killed since early June 2014 and tens of thousands displaced from their homes, adding to the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes since the violence began in March 2013.
A Human Rights Watch research mission in June found that at least 62 people were killed in and around Bambari, in the eastern province of Ouaka, between June 9 and 23, 2014, when fighting escalated between the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels and the Christian and animist anti-balaka militias. Witnesses on both sides frequently described the attacks as retaliatory in nature, indicating a growing cycle of tit-for-tat revenge killings between the communities. Most of the victims were men who were chopped to death by machetes.
Human Rights Watch