Central African Republic minister targeted, another targeted

The kidnapping of Armel Ningatoloum Sayo follows the kidnapping earlier this week of a U.N. staff member and a French charity worker

Central African Republic minister targeted, another targeted

World Bulletin / News Desk

Central African Republic's minister for youth and sport was kidnapped on Sunday by gunmen in the capital, Bangui, as he returned from church, an official said with a second minister narrowly escaped capture in a town to the north, officials said.

The kidnapping of Armel Ningatoloum Sayo follows the kidnapping earlier this week of a U.N. staff member and a French charity worker, highlighting insecurity in the country despite the presence of French and U.N. peacekeepers.

Tatiana Yangeko, Sayo's spokeswoman, said the minister was driving his wife and his brother back from church when four unidentified gunmen in a taxi stopped their vehicle in Bangui's 8th arrondissement, shot in the air and seized the minister.

"They got out of the taxi, shot in the air and forced the minister out of his car. They fled with him towards Boy Rabe," Yangeko said, referring to a neighbourhood that is a stronghold of the 'anti-Balaka' militia.

"We have told the prime minister," she added.

Later, a government source told Reuters that Education Minister Eloi Anguimate was targeted in a separate kidnapping attempt in Kaga Bandoro, some 300 km (186 miles) north of Bangui on Sunday.

Anguimate escaped but his driver, assistant and the mayor of the town were seized, the source said.

It was not immediately clear if the incidents were connected or who was behind them.

Central African Republic has been gripped by violence since the northern, mainly Muslim Seleka alliance rebelled and seized power in March 2013. The group was forced to stand aside last year having failed to contain clashes with the Christian 'anti-Balaka' militia and the waves of tit-for-tat violence that went with the fighting.

Seleka rebels still occupy much of the north and the interim government is still struggling to stamp its authority on the country. But France has started withdrawing some troops as the U.N. force, due to reach 10,000 by the end of April, deploys ahead of elections due later this year.

Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2015, 19:55
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