CAR fighters kill at least 20 civilians: peacekeepers
08 July 2014, 19:35
Bangui - At least 20 civilians given shelter by the Catholic Church in the Central African Republic have been killed by fighters of the mainly Muslim Seleka alliance, a peacekeeping official said.
Another 25 people were wounded in the attack Monday evening on a Catholic centre for the displaced in the south-central town of Bambari, said the official with the African Union force in the country, who requested anonymity.
"The assailants torched tents and opened fire on the civilians who were there. The toll is still provisional and could rise because the humanitarian workers don't have an easy task on the ground where gunfire could still be heard this morning," he said.
The Seleka said they were targeting Christian vigilantes they believed were sheltering among the civilians.
"There have still been provocations and attacks by the anti-balaka (Christians) since their attack that left 17 dead," said Seleka military spokesman Ahmad Nejad, referring to a June 23 attack on a camp near Bambari.
The new violence caused visiting French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to cancel a stop in Bambari planned for today.
Speaking in the capital Bangui earlier in the day, Le Drian said that without a truce between the rival sides both accused of atrocities against civilians, "there is no future for the Central African Republic".
The impoverished country has seen more than a year of unrest, with tit-for-tat violence between the former rebels and vigilantes claiming thousands of lives and displacing about a quarter of population of some 4.5 million.