Bangui – At least 60 people have been killed in sectarian
clashes in Central African Republic between local militias and former rebels,
witnesses and a local official said on Wednesday.
The mineral-rich nation has descended into
chaos since mostly Muslim Seleka rebels from the north seized the capital
Bangui in March, ousting president Francois Bozize.
The new transitional government's failure to stem the
violence has prompted the UN Security Council to consider intervening to
Local self-defence militias, known as
"anti-balaka" or anti-machetes, attacked a Seleka position in the
mining village of Gaga, around 250km northwest of Bangui, on Monday, killing
four ex-rebels before attacking Muslim civilians.
The Seleka fighters retaliated against Christian civilians
in the village, witnesses said. Seleka gunmen, many of them from neighbouring
Chad and Sudan, have repeatedly been accused of desecrating churches and
terrorising Christian communities.
"We're waiting for reinforcements in order to go there
but the different accounts we've gathered from survivors coming from Gaga lead
us to believe there are over 60 dead," said Judicael Kama, a gendarme in
the nearby town of Yaloke.
Many of those wounded in the violence were taken to Yaloke's
hospital, around 35 km from Gaga.
"The Seleka fighters went door to door. It was total
terror," Raymond Kitivo, who was wounded in the attack, told Reuters by
telephone from the hospital in Yaloke.
The violence erupted less than a week after at least 14
people were killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians in the isolated
eastern town of Bangassou, in further evidence that the clashes are becoming
The UN officials and rights groups say both Seleka and their
opponents may have committed war crimes in the past few months.
Last month French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said
Central African Republic risked becoming a new Somalia if it did not get
immediate support. He is expected to visit Bangui on Sunday to assess the
Security Council diplomats may vote on Thursday on a
French-drafted resolution calling on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to
submit a report on possible international support for a planned African Union
peacekeeping mission known as MISCA.
According to the draft, obtained by Reuters, Ban's report
should include "the possible option of a transformation of MISCA into a
United Nations peacekeeping operation, subject to appropriate conditions on the
Former colonial power France, which intervened earlier this
year to oust Islamist rebels from another of its former African colonies, Mali,
has been reluctant to get directly involved in the crisis. It has urged African
nations and the African Union to do their utmost to resolve the crisis among
But while the African Union plans to deploy the 3 600-strong
MISCA mission, incorporating a regional force of 1 100 soldiers already there,
it is unlikely to be operational before 2014.