Ceasefire immediately 'violated' in the Central African Republic

Elias Hubbard
June 24, 2017

AFP | Intense fighting in the Central African Republic killed at least 40 people Tuesday and injured dozens more, dashing hopes for stability in the strife-torn country the day after the signing of a ceasefire deal.

"The warring parties burned villages and neighbourhoods of Bria, forcing more of the population out with many fleeing into the bush", local MP Arsene Kongbo told AFP on Wednesday.

In December 2015, Pope Francis shunned security concerns to ride in an open-top vehicle across what was then the front line in the vicious civil war to visit a mosque in a part of the capital known as PK5; the last Muslim enclave in Bangui.

By the end of the month, the fighting had already killed 300 people, and displaced 100,000 others, according to the United Nations and government. Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christians, fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The UN says that the country is facing a dire humanitarian crisis.

Fighting erupted in 2013 after President Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, replaced former leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, in a coup.

Rights groups have accused some of the militants of committing serious abuses and atrocities including execution of civilians and humanitarian personnel, as well as rape and torture over the course of the conflict.

Shooting erupted early on Tuesday in the central town of Bria and continued for about six hours, leaving around 100 people dead, according to the town's mayor Maurice Belikoussou and its parish priest.

The peace deal was signed on Monday among almost all the country's armed groups had called for an immediate cease-fire.

The office of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was elected a year ago, applauded on Tuesday what it said was "an historic accord". Another 20,000 have fled to neighboring Congo.

Monday's peace deal is only the latest in a series of agreements aimed at putting an end to the conflict in Central African Republic, which has in recent months witnessed some of the worst bloodshed in years.

It was hailed as a precious chance to stabilise one of the world's most volatile and poorest countries.

It came weeks after the government held meetings with members of rebel groups to discuss ways to achieve disarmament. "The armed groups should cease the hostilities and put an end to people's suffering".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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