Central African militia leader arrested in Congo
27 February 2014, 21:41
Brazzaville - The self-styled political leader of a
militia sowing terror in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been arrested
in north Congo and transferred to Brazzaville, police said on Thursday.
A former minister under ousted president Francois Bozize,
Patrice Edouard Ngaissona - who calls himself the co-ordinator of the mostly
Christian "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) militia, was arrested on Tuesday
along with two aides.
"Mr Ngaissona's arrest took place without
violence," said a police official speaking on condition of anonymity.
"He virtually handed himself in. He is currently in
a safe place in the capital."
Congo's pro-government newspaper Les Depeches de
Brazzaville splashed a front-page photograph of Ngaissona across its Thursday
edition along with news of the arrest.
Congo's northern Likouala region, which lies across the
Ubangi river from the CAR, has since end 2013 hosted about 11 000 Christian and
Muslim refugees, among the million civilians displaced by the violence
engulfing their homeland, according to UN figures.
Ngaissona served as a lawmaker and headed the Central
African football federation before becoming sports minister under Bozize, whose
ouster in a Muslim-led coup in March last year touched off a year of escalating
Ngaissona went on to declare himself leader of the
anti-balaka militia, set up in response to atrocities by the Muslim-led Seleka
rebellion behind the coup.
The anti-balaka currently poses the biggest threat to
security in the strife-torn country, where French and African peacekeepers are
struggling to restore order and protect civilians.
Congo is deeply involved in the Central African crisis,
with 1 000 troops deployed there, the largest contingent in the 6 000-strong
African force Misca, and President Denis Sassou Nguesso playing an important
role as mediator.
Interim president Catherine Samba Panza made her first
foreign trip to Brazzaville after taking over from Michel Djotodia, the Muslim
president installed in last year's coup and forced out in January.