Al Jazeera takes an in-depth look at the groups involved in the fight for the Central African Republic.
A hospital in the capital of the Central African Republic has been attacked by armed gunmen, according to Al Jazeera sources.
At least ten people were killed when Seleka rebels arrived late on Friday night at Bangui’s Amitie hospital, where many of those wounded from days of violence were being treated.
The gunmen reportedly pulled injured victims from the hospital, and shot them dead. The hospital has since been abandoned, Al Jazeera has been told.
The Red Cross said it has collected the bodies of 281 people killed during two days of violence in Bangui, and expected to collect many more.
Pastor Antoine Mbao Bogo, the president of the country’s aid organisation, said on Friday that staff found the dead before night fell and the toll was likely to rise significantly when they resumed work at the weekend.
They are slaughtering us like chicken.
“Tomorrow is going to be a monster of a day. We’re going to work tomorrow and I think we’re going to need a fourth day too,” Bogo said.
“Even now, we’re still recovering bodies from the streets.”
The bloodshed started on Thursday as armed Christians raided Muslim neignbourhoods in a country that has been seeing tit-for-tat violence since mainly Muslim rebels, called Seleka, seized power in March and toppled President Francois Bozize.
“They are slaughtering us like chicken,” said Donoboy, a Christian whose family remained in hiding as former rebels searched house-to-house.
French troops rumbled into their former colony on Friday, trying to stop violence in the capital and to stabilise the country.
However, French officials insisted the mission’s aims were limited to bringing a minimum of security to Bangui, where people now fear to leave their homes, and to support an African-led force.
|Nazanine Moshiri blogs from CAR|
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“You have to secure, you have to disarm,” Jean-Yves Le Drian, French defence minister, told Radio France Internationale. “You have to ensure that the vandals, the bandits, the militias know they can’t use the streets of Bangui for their battles.”
Africa analyst Lydie Boka said that the fighting was dividing the nation.
“Some people are using this to fan tensions among people who have been living peacefully together,” she told Al Jazeera.
“France is being reluctantly dragged back to Africa… it’s the only ex-colonial power to have troops there, so it’s convenient for it to intervene – it is even a moral imperative for it to do so.”
|French ambassador discusses CAR mission|
The streets of Bangui were deserted on Friday morning, with the only vehicles on the road belonging to either international security forces or the rebel fighters who claim control of the government.
There was no repeat of the clashes, Le Drian said.
“Thanks to France and the United Nations who want to save the Central Africans, soon the Seleka attacks on civilians will stop. We have had enough of Seleka killing, raping and stealing,” said Abel Nguerefara, who lives on the outskirts of Bangui.
However, Joanna Mariner, part of an Amnesty International team in Bangui, said that she had reports of pillaging and killing in the third district. “The French are patrolling on the main axes, but the city isn’t yet secure,” she added.
Since 2011, France has intervened in four African countries, in Ivory Coast, on a joint mission in Libya, in Mali and now in Central African Republic.