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Central Africa violence leaves 36 dead

29 September 2015, 19:37

Geneva - A wave of violence gripping the Central African Republic has killed nearly 40 people and forced close to 30,000 to flee their homes in a matter of days, the United Nations said Tuesday.

"We fear that the violence that we're seeing in Bangui is a return to the dark days of late 2013 and 2014, when thousands were killed and tens of thousands had to flee their homes," UN refugee agency spokesman Leo Dobbs told reporters.

"We're particularly concerned about gaining access to the thousands of people who have fled their homes since Saturday," he said, saying at least 36 had been killed and 27,400 people had been displaced.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN rights agency, meanwhile said at least 37 had died in the violence and 100 others had been injured.

Bangui's latest round of violence broke out on Saturday after claims a motorcycle-taxi driver was murdered in central Bangui's Muslim-majority PK-5 neighbourhood.

PK-5 neighbourhood was the epicentre of unprecedented killings between Christians and Muslims in Bangui in late 2013 and early last year. It remains the last bastion for Muslims hounded from other districts by Christian "anti-balaka" militias.

Dobbs said around 10,000 of those who had been displaced had taken refuge at Bangui international airport, which had already been hosting around 11,000 people, he said.

"There is great difficulty getting to the airport. There are barricades in the streets and there was shooting going on this morning," he said.

"The displaced people are reported to be in a state of shock," he said, pointing out that many of them had been forced to flee their homes previously.

Colville meanwhile said some 500 prisoners had escaped from Bangui's main prison late Monday.

"This is a huge setback for the preservation of law and order, and for the fight against impunity, which has been and remains a chronic problem in CAR," he told reporters.

Colville urged the country's transitional government and international actors to "urgently stop what appears to be a deliberate attempt to derail the current peace process and important progress made in CAR over the last 18 months."

Central African Republic descended into bloodshed more than two years ago after Muslim militia ousted longtime leader Francois Bozize, triggering the worst crisis since independence in 1960.

The country since has remained prey to violence between the mostly Muslim Seleka fighters and Christian militias known as the "anti-balaka", or anti-machete.

French soldiers and UN peacekeepers remain in the former French colony, where thousands of people died in the violence and hundreds of thousands remain displaced from their homes.

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