At least 20 villagers are killed during a rebel attack in northern Central African Republic
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — At least 21 people, including children and a soldier, were killed by rebels during attacks targeting a security outpost and a village in northern Central African Republic, according to local authorities.
“The rebels first attacked the army checkpoints, killing one person and wounding several others, before attacking the civilian population, killing about 20 people,” Ernest Bonang, a federal lawmaker who represents Nzakoundou, the village attacked Thursday.
The assailants burned down houses in the village, which has been “emptied of its population,” Bonang said.
The mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic has faced intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced then-President Francois Bozize from office. Majority-Christian militias later fought back, also targeting civilians in the streets.
The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping mission in the country, estimates the fighting has killed thousands and displaced over a million people, one-fifth of the country’s population.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but locals blamed the 3R, or Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation group, one of many militia groups in northern CAR. The group claims to be fighting to protect the minority Peuhl population but has been accused of mass killings and looting of villages since it emerged in 2015.
“The rebels have once again turned my town into a bloodbath,” Josephine Helari, the mayor of Ndim, said. “Today, many families are homeless and forced to leave their homes because their homes were burned down.”
Helari also urged authorities to do more to end the violence in northern CAR where rebels have defied security measures and efforts introduced under President Faustin Archange Touade.
“This security tension clearly shows that the state has forgotten the region,” said Ozias Carrière Lagbo, a member of the opposition. “Even though there is a detachment of the military (in the area), there is a lack of military means to deal with any incident.”