Prominent Muslim ex-leader killed in Central African Republic

A former health minister who had supported former president Michel Djotodia was assassinated on Friday.

Prominent Muslim ex-leader killed in Central African Republic

World Bulletin / News Desk

Christian militiamen killed a prominent Muslim former government minister who supported last year's rebellion, officials said.

Dr. Joseph Kalite, a former health minister who had supported coup leader Michel Djotodia, was assassinated on Friday, according to El-Hadj Wananga Kabara, an official at the Central Mosque in Bangui.

Witnesses said Kalite died from machete wounds after his car was attacked by Christian fighters.

News of Kalite's death sent waves of fresh fear through Bangui's Muslim community and prompted several religious authorities to condemn international peacekeeping forces for failing to sufficiently protect Muslims.

"The imams announce that, starting today, they will let their followers decide themselves which reactions they deem most appropriate to this new provocation," said Ahmadou Tidjani Moussa Naibi, the imam at Central Mosque.

50 MUSLIMS KILLED IN TWO SEPARATE ATTACKS

Dozens of Muslims in the violence-ravaged Central African Republic (CAR) have been killed by Christian militias and need more protection from African and French peacekeepers, according to an international rights group.

"Muslims are living in fear because they're constantly being targeted by the anti-balaka Christian militia group," Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International, said.

She said that French troops and African peacekeeping mission MISCA could not sufficiently protect Muslim communities, leaving them vulnerable to attacks by anti-balaka militiamen.

Amnesty said that more than 50 Muslims had been killed in two separate attacks on villages located northwest of capital Bangui between January 14 and 16.

"Both attacks were carried out by Christian anti-balaka militias, which now wield effective power in many of the towns and villages northwest of the capital," the rights group asserted.

Amnesty said that anti-balaka fighters had stopped a truck transporting people fleeing to Cameroon in the town of Boyali, some 130km northwest of Bangui.

"The Muslim passengers – eight to ten people in all – were forced to get off the truck, which was then allowed to leave," the rights watchdog added.

According to Amnesty, the anti-balaka then used machetes and knives to kill their captives – who included three women and three children – in the street outside a local mosque.

The second attack, the group said, occurred on January 16 in the town of Bossembele, some 30km north of Boyali, where 25 bodies were found inside a local mosque and another 18 found strewn in nearby streets.

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 country has been plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between the anti-balaka and former seleka fighters.

On Thursday, Catherine Samba-Panza, the mayor of Bangui, was sworn in as CAR's first female president.

She replaces Michel Djotodia, the country's first Muslim president since its independence from France in 1960, who stepped down earlier this month due to international and regional pressure.

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2014, 15:13
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