Clashes in CAR leave over a dozen dead
15 April 2013, 09:38
Bangui - More than a dozen people were killed in weekend
clashes between residents and fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition that
seized power in Central Africa last month, according to medical and police
sources and witnesses.
Twelve people were killed in one area of the capital,
several witnesses told AFP, while a source from the Red Cross said four had
died in another part of Bangui, and three more elsewhere in the city.
Police added that the clashes erupted as Seleka members were
searching for weapons among residents.
"We don't have all the details on the victims but after
what we saw and the information we get from other medical sources there are
close to 20 dead," said a source at a Bangui hospital morgue.
Police said that according to first reports at their
disposal and those provided by the Red Cross there were "nearly 20 dead
and dozens of wounded", adding that the toll could rise.
Witnesses contacted by AFP gave 12 dead in the capital's
seventh district where mayor Joseph Tagbalet was among the wounded and taken to
The shootings led residents to flee across the Oubangui
river to neighbouring Congo.
The Seleka coalition, led by strongman Michel Djotodia, took
power in a rapid assault on the capital on March 24, the latest coup in the
notoriously unstable country.
A taxi driver said a Seleka member had opened fire on a
young man holding a rickshaw with a body to bury, and who died on the spot.
"That infuriated the mourners and the residents" of the
neighbourhood. "Screaming and shouting followed," he added.
The Red Cross said that four people died in the Boy-Rabe
district and three more in Gobongo.
A statement from Bozize
Boy-Rabe was the scene of tensions last week when shots were
fired but no one was killed.
Djotodia, who was on Saturday elected interim president by
the national transitional council, singled out "a group of
individuals" who continue to support ousted president Francois Bozize for
the latest violence.
They "want to push Central Africans into civil war so
they will kill each other", he said on national radio.
"But the Central Africans do not want this to happen
and they do not want to be at war with each other."
"What happened these past 48 hours at Boy-Rabe [happened]
because our men went to this area ... but those longing for the Bozize era ...
killed our men and dumped the bodies at Ngaragba to blame [the killings] on
Ngaragba residents," he said.
Seleka has so far failed to restore order in the capital
after seizing power and Bozize's flight as the rebels advanced. He is now
expected to seek asylum in Benin.
A statement signed by "president Francois Bozize's
department of communication" and received by AFP meanwhile said he
"firmly condemns the coup ... which only aims to allow foreign commissioners
to grab our country's natural resources".
"A large part of the Central African territory is left
to organised pillaging of its mining resources including by multinational
companies, as the international community looks on complacently," it said.
The statement added that "hundreds are dying, private
property and public buildings are being destroyed, Christian churches
vandalised, clerics abused but nobody cares".
Before the weekend violence the Central African Red Cross
had put the number of dead and wounded in the Seleka takeover at 119 and 456