Violent attacks against Christians in Bangui leave hundreds dead


Sectarian violence has broken out in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR), claiming between 100-200 lives.

Violence broke out on 26 September after the body of a young Muslim man was found in Bangui, leading to retributive attacks by Muslims against Christians, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

The chairman of the Evangelical Alliance in CAR, Rev Nicolas Guereokoyame-Gbangou, was targeted in the attacks.

Guereokoyame-Gbangou was away when his house was looted and burned, but two people seeking refuge in the property were killed.

The city has descended into lawlessness, with anti-Balaka groups establishing roadblocks in the capital and armed groups attacking peacekeeping forces.

A dispensary, Catholic Church and a police station have all been looted and burned. There have been reports of corpses being dumped in water wells.

The timing of the clashes is of particular concern, as the national elections are scheduled for 18 October, which may incite further violence along sectarian lines.

The context of the elections is further complicated by the reality that there are nearly 30,000 newly displaced citizens within CAR.

Bangui has been broadly peaceful since October 2014 after the anti-Balaka took to the streets calling for the resignation of the president of the transitional government.

"The eruption of violence less than a month ahead of national elections is a concerning development and an indication of the complexities of returning the country to civilian rule," said CSW's chief executive Mervyn Thomas.

"Despite the efforts of the international peacekeeping forces and the transitional government, the country's social fabric remains extremely weak and ethnic and religious tensions are still easily manipulated by armed groups."