Tension mounts in Bangui over Muslim's murder -UPDATED

Tension is running high in Bangui, capital of the war-torn Central African Republic, after a Muslim man was burnt to death by a Christian mob

Tension mounts in Bangui over Muslim's murder -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Gunfire and explosions rang out in the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday in fighting that has left at least eight dead and 25 wounded, the United Nations and the country's Red Cross said.

Human Rights Watch said the unrest was the most serious in months in a country where thousands have died and more than 1 million have fled in two years of conflict over power and resources.

Streets emptied, shops closed and youths blocked roads with barricades in unrest that appeared to centre on the mainly Muslim KM-5 neighbourhood. Soldiers from the French and U.N. peacekeeping mission patrolled the area, witnesses said.

Anti-balaka militia are trying to take over KM-5 but are being repulsed by Muslim fighters and peacekeepers, said Mohamed Dhaffane, a vice president of former Seleka group.

"The anti-balaka are demanding the resignation of Samba-Panza. So there is a political tension on top of the security tension," he told Reuters.

The violence began on Tuesday when a Muslim man was lynched, decapitated and torched by a mob.

Most Muslims have fled the south of the country, creating a de facto partition and exacerbating the fears of those who remain in the capital. Some members of the Seleka leadership have pushed for the partition to be formalised.

Some 3,000 people have fled to the town of Bimbo, southwest of the capital, because of the clashes, a U.N. spokeswoman said.

"Health workers report that armed groups tried to enter the hospital there and one child was killed and another injured," the spokeswoman said in New York.

The unrest also included two days of demonstrations outside the headquarters of the U.N. mission in the country, the spokeswoman said, adding that the head of the mission, General Babacar Gaye, condemned the violence and called for dialogue.

The fighting forced the country's Red Cross branch to suspend its operations to retrieve dead and wounded. Its head, Pastor Antoine Mbao Bogo, later said seven died and 25 were wounded in the capital this week. By evening, gunfire had died down, a witness said.

To add to political tension, the two anti-balaka ministers resigned from Samba-Panza's government, heeding a call from their group to quit, an anti-balaka leader told Reuters. The group and some Seleka members have called for her to step down.

Communications Minister Antoinette Montaigne said the violence was an attempt force the president to resign.

MOB KILLING

Tension is running high in Bangui, capital of the war-torn Central African Republic, after a Muslim man was burnt to death by a Christian mob on Tuesday, with riots reported in the city's main Muslim neighborhood.

According to witnesses, a young Muslim was burned to death in the capital's predominantly Christian Gobongo neighborhood on Tuesday.

One day later, the country's Red Cross recovered his charred body and brought it to the Ali Babolo Mosque in the Muslim-majority PK5 neighborhood.

The body was received with rage, with angry youths marching to the U.N. office – with the dead man's corpse – to protest the killing, witnesses told Anadolu Agency.

As they marched, the angry mob stopped a taxi, stabbing the driver and his two passengers before torching the vehicle.

The three victims are currently in hospital, where they are in serious condition, the witnesses said.

Protesters also torched several shops while en route to the U.N. office, they added, noting that U.N. peacekeepers were currently trying to contain the situation.

Ousmane Abakar, spokesman for PK5's Muslim community, told AA that the slain Muslim had been murdered as "punishment by Christians for daring to leave PK5."

He also dismissed claims that the man had been killed after throwing grenades in the capital's mainly Christian 4th district.

Last week, a young Muslim was burned alive in his truck by Christian anti-Balaka militiamen some 30km east of the flashpoint city of Bambari.

In an attempt to avenge the murder, a group of armed Muslims attacked an anti-balaka site, but U.N. forces opened fire on the attackers.

Ensuing clashes between the two sides left 16 people dead, including both Muslims and Christians.

Since last year, the Central African Republic has been plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between Christian anti-balaka militiamen and Muslim seleka fighters.

Anti-Muslim violence escalated after the country's president, Michel Djotodia, stepped down in January. He was replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian who had formerly served as Bangui mayor.

Last Mod: 09 Ekim 2014, 22:06
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