World Bulletin / News Desk
Members of the African peacekeeping force, MISCA, were deployed on Sunday near a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), to help facilitate the safe evacuation of fleeing Muslims amid increasing attacks by Christian militiamen.
"As I was driving near Lakwanga this morning, I saw a huge smoke in the air," an eyewitness told Anadolu Agency.
"I stopped and was told by people in the area that the anti-balaka Christian militia group had thrown a grenade on one of the vehicles transporting Muslims who are fleeing to Chad by road," he added.
The witness said MISCA troops had arrived at the scene and started combing the area for the culprits.
He could not say how many people had been killed or injured in the attack.
Efforts to get a comment from the MISCA spokesman were futile as his phone was not available.
Muslims fleeing the country have often been targeted by Christian mobs and the anti-balaka Christian militia.
International humanitarian group Save the Children confirmed Sunday that at least 23 Muslims, including three children, were killed and 22 were injured when a truck convoy transporting them was attacked.
Last week, MISCA commanders met with leaders of the anti-balaka in Bangui to discuss disarmament.
"Our commanders today went to the anti-balaka headquarters and told their leaders to tell their men to disarm," spokesman Sandou Jean-Pierre told AA at the time.
The self-styled Christian militia was initially formed to defend Christian communities against attacks by the former Seleka rebels.
But the militiamen have been accused of perpetrating atrocities against the Muslims in the country, particularly in the capital Bangui.
CAR, a mineral-rich, landlocked country, descended into anarchy in March, when Seleka rebels – said to be mostly Muslim – ousted Christian president François Bozize, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.
For months the countries was plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between the anti-balaka and former seleka fighters.
Interim president Michael Djotodia, the country's first Muslim president since its independence from France, stepped down earlier this month during a regional summit in neighboring Chad.
The 135-member National Transitional Council (NTC), CAR's interim parliament, in expected to soon elected a new head of state.Last Mod: 19 Ocak 2014, 16:18