Two Muslim men have been lynched in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, in the latest attack amid worsening sectarian divide and bloody anarchy.
A Christian mob, which suspected that the two men were involved in another case of sectarian violence, set upon the men and killed them on Sunday morning. Their dead bodies were dragged through the streets and burnt in a public square.
More than 1,000 people have been killed since violence escalated a month ago, and nearly 1 million people have fled their homes since a rebel leader backed by Muslim rebels seized power last year..
The International Committee of the Red Cross said its representatives had buried 50 bodies outside Bangui in just 48 hours. The corpses were buried in Bossembele, Boyali and Boali in country’s northwest.
In an attack on Friday, 22 people were killed after a Christian mob armed with machetes and clubs ambushed a convoy of Muslims fleeing fighting, an aid group said.
Our doctor said there was blood everywhere, just pouring out of people like tap water.
The latest violence comes about a week after interim President Michel Djotodia, the rebel leader who seized power backed by Muslim fighters in March, stepped down amid mounting criticism of his inability to stem bloodshed some warn could explode into genocide.
On Monday, members of the National Transitional Council are to select a new interim president tasked with leading the country towards democratic elections before the end of 2014.
The field of candidates, though, was visibly narrowed by the requirement that they could not have taken part in a rebellion or armed group over the last 20 years.
Among eight candidates selected from an initial 24 are two sons of former presidents: Sylvain Patasse, whose father was the country’s only democratically elected leader and governed from 1993 to 2003; and Desire Zanga-Kolingba, whose father took power in a coup and ruled from 1981 to 1993.
The current mayor of Bangui, Catherine Samba-Panza, is also in the running as is a second female candidate, Regina Konzi-Mongo.
Even as the country moved towards restoring a central government, reports of brutal violence outside the capital continued. Tens of thousands of African migrant workers and their families, mostly Muslims, have tried to flee the country amid the sectarian clashes.
Save the Children reported the 22 deaths in Friday’s ambush, saying three children were among those killed.
Spokesman Mike McCusker said doctors described gory scenes and harrowing accounts after gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade to halt a convoy of Muslim refugees and then attacked them with firearms, machetes and clubs.
“Our doctor said there was blood everywhere, just pouring out of people like tap water,” McCusker told The Associated Press.
The attack took place in the remote northwest of the country outside the town of Bouar. Nearly the entire population of the town, about 40,000 people, is taking refuge in mosques and churches, he said.
The assault underscores how African and French peacekeepers are not reaching remote areas where violence goes unreported, said the British charity’s country director Robert Lankenau.
Rebel leader Djotodia united thousands of fighters last March in a bid to overthrow longtime President Francois Bozize.
Djotodia’s inability to control the rebels in the aftermath ultimately led to his resignation, as the fighters began pillaging homes and killing civilians.
Over time, resentment grew in the predominantly Christian country toward the rebels, most minority Muslims from the distant north.