World Bulletin/News Desk
Two young Muslim protesters were killed and a number of others injured on Friday in Bambari, 400km east of Central African Republic (CAR) capital Bangui, during clashes with French troops, eyewitnesses said.
The victims were identified as Hamadou Moussa Ibrahim, 24, and Mohamed Saleh Issaka, 29.
They had been partaking in a protest with their coreligionists to denounce a campaign by the government and French troops aimed at disarming the Muslim Seleka militia, saying the campaign would pave the way for attacks by Christian anti-Balaka militiamen on the Muslim community.
According to eyewitnesses, young Muslims took to the streets of the town, blocking roads to prevent French forces from implementing a decision by the CAR government to dismantle checkpoints controlled by the Seleka militiamen and disarm them.
"To clear the road, the French army opened fire, killing two and injuring four," Zoubeirou Moussa, president of the Association of Muslim Youths in Bambari, told Anadolu Agency.
The clashes came only days after Joesph Ousmane Zoundeko, the new "chief-of-staff" of the seleka militia, signed a deal with French peacekeepers with a view to averting clashes with the Christian anti-balaka militia.
"We have reached agreement to apply confidence measures in ways that suit the situation in Bambari," Zoundeko told AA. "We, however, want to reserve the right to defend ourselves without returning to the French peacekeepers in case of an anti-balaka attack."
A military source told AA that the confidence-building measures had been approved last December, adding that the measures called for all the country's armed groups to suspend their activities.
Fist established in mid-2012, members of the seleka militia were drawn from the rebel forces opposed to then-president Francois Bozize, a Christian.
One year later, the militia managed to remove Bozize from office and install Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, in his place. The latter, however, under international pressure, resigned earlier this year, to be succeeded by Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian.
Anti-Muslim violence has escalated since January, when Samba-Panza assumed office.
Since last December, thousands, mostly Muslims, have been killed in a spate of sectarian bloodletting throughout the country.
The violence has been blamed on the Christian anti-balaka militia, which accuses Muslims of supporting former seleka rebels blamed for attacking Christian homes, looting property and carrying out summary executions.
According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 173,000 people have been internally displaced by the violence, while another 37,000 have fled the county.Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2014, 11:14