Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


CAR soldiers join chaotic violence

05 February 2014, 22:10

Bangui - The interim president of Central African Republic told the hundreds of soldiers standing in formation that she was proud of them and called on their support to bring order in their anarchic country. Then she left, and the soldiers broke ranks to mercilessly stab and stomp a man in their midst to death. They dragged his corpse through the streets.

The horrific attack on Wednesday, witnessed by Associated Press journalists, showed the degree of hatred and savagery to which this impoverished country has fallen and the difficulty faced by the international community, which has already deployed thousands of peacekeepers, to try to stabilize it.

Wednesday's gathering was intended to highlight the rebuilding of the national army, left in tatters when President Francois Bozize was ousted from power in a March 2013 coup. The general in charge of the French military mission in Central African Republic highlighted how the national soldiers "have above all a detailed knowledge of the terrain which will allow us to have them take over the action".

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, who took over last month after the rebel leader who had seized power stepped aside amid mounting international pressure, announced that the government soldiers would soon be paid after five months without wages. And she emphasized that the international community would help rearm them.

"I would like to renew my pride in those elements of FACA (Armed Forces of Central African Republic) who are here and to ask them to support my actions wherever they are," she said. The uniformed soldiers stood at attention in orderly fashion for the speech, some sporting smiles amid the festivities.

But after she left, the soldiers spotted a suspected former member of the Seleka rebellion that had overthrown the government standing in their midst. His name was Idriss. They accused him of being an infiltrator, there to spy for Seleka. Out came the first knife.

"I will kill him with my own hands," shouted one man who had come to enlist in the national army.

The very men expected to protect civilians used knives, bricks and their own feet to attack the man. Troops from the tiny African nation of Burundi surrounded the wounded man to protect him from the growing crowd. He lay wounded on his back and still alive for about five minutes.

But as the crowd moved closer, the peacekeepers withdrew, not even firing warning shots. The attack resumed. Some stabbed him while others kicked him in the face. Still others pelted him with concrete blocks as a crowd cheered.

A police officer jumped out of his truck to try to halt the gruesome attack and was accosted by the crowd and accused of being a traitor. Senior officers managed to extract him from the mob and sped away with him in their pick-up.

Even for a city that sees civilians killed by mobs almost daily, it was a shocking display of violence, underscoring the depth of chaos now gripping Central African Republic.

After dragging his corpse through the street, the victim was dismembered and set ablaze.

The 2013 coup ushered in months of turmoil and bitter hatred toward the mostly Muslim rebels and has left anyone accused of collaborating with them vulnerable to attack. The rebels' 10-month rule was marked by human rights abuses, and sparked a Christian armed movement known as the anti-Balaka, who also have been accused of atrocities.

Tit-for-tat retaliatory attacks left more than 1 000 people dead in Bangui alone in only a matter of days in December. An untold number have died in the weeks that followed, with most of the attacks in Bangui targeting Muslims.

The violence is unprecedented in a country with little history of inter-communal conflict. There are now 5 000 African peacekeepers and 1 600 French troops on the ground. On Wednesday, they could only stand guard over the charred remains of the victim until Red Cross workers came to remove them.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Mudavadi given permission to join...

Musalia Mudavadi has been ghranted permission by his party to join the CORD Coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
EACC officers raid Deputy Governo...

EACC officers raided the home of a Deputy Governor as theft case continues in court. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
New IEBC bosses to be named Novem...

New IEBC bosses will be named on November 30. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
DP Ruto has spoilt my name, activ...

DP William Ruto has spoilt my name, activist complains. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Apologise for attack on Auditor G...

Apologise for attack on Auditor General, President Uhuru Kenyatta is told by Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong'o. Read more...