Fighting between mainly Muslim ex-rebels and the largely Christian “anti-balaka” militia has killed at least 22 people in eastern Central African Republic, security officials have said.
“At least 22 people have been killed and more than 30 were wounded in clashes that broke out last Monday and Tuesday in a village outside of the central town of Bambari,” a security official, requesting to remain anonymous, told the AFP news agency on Thursday,
“We have also counted 127 homes burned by the ex-Seleka and armed Fulani,” he said.
Two of the four hostages were also publicly executed after deadly clashes, Reuters news agency quoted a local journalist and a witness, Jean Nono, as saying.
The clashes broke out on Monday as a group of Muslims, who were returning to the town of Bambari after carrying out a reprisal raid on a village where two Muslim herders had been killed, clashed with a Christian mob attempting to block their path.
Thousands have died and nearly a million Central Africans have fled their homes in the chaos unleashed after Muslim-led Seleka rebels seized Bangui, the capital of the majority Christian nation, last year.
They relinquished power under heavy international pressure in January, but the abuses they committed fuelled the rise of anti-Balaka Christian fighters, responsible for revenge attacks that have driven most Muslims from Bangui and the west.
Catherine Samba-Panza, CAR’s president, said on Wednesday that she had sent a request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into crimes committed during the inter-communal violence in her country since mid-2012.
The ICC announced in February it was launching a preliminary investigation for crimes committed since September 2012.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she would take a decision soon on whether to bring any cases before the world court.
“The Central African courts are not in a position to carry out the necessary investigations and proceedings efficiently, and consequently, the International Criminal Court’s intervention now appears essential,” she said on Thursday.