BANGUI, Central African Republic (AFP) – Communal clashes have left four people dead and more than a dozen wounded at Bambari in the unstable Central African Republic, the UN mission MINUSCA has announced.
“The town of Bambari has once again been the scene of serious and blind violence causing numerous casualties, including four dead, more than a dozen injured and houses burned down,” MINUSCA said in a statement released on Thursday night.
The mission, which is part of international efforts to restore peace and help transitional authorities after a 2013 coup led to civil war, said that it was “particularly concerned by the inter-communal nature of this violence”.
The unrest in the town in the centre of the deeply poor, landlocked nation erupted after a motorcycle taxi driver was killed and his vehicle stolen, according to the paramilitary police.
When the man’s body was found by locals and recognised as that of a Peul (Fulani), a people who mainly profess Islam, Muslim residents launched reprisals against Christians.
The mainly Muslim rebel Seleka coalition that took power in a March 2013 coup has set up its headquarters in Bambari since being routed from the capital Bangui last January with the aid of French military intervention.
Since June, several dozen people have been killed and many wounded in clashes in the flashpoint trading town, which has a population of more than 41,000, according to a decade-old census.
Confronted with massacres, looting and burning by Seleka forces, majority Christian communities set up vigilante self-defence groups that chased many Muslims out of their homes and became as notorious for atrocities as the Seleka.
In a nation where the role of the state has been undermined by decades of unrest, the latest strife had by last August displaced 500,000 people in a population of some 4.8 million, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Armed groups take advantage of the lack of law and order to rob humanitarian aid organisations in many regions, as well as terrorising local people.