CAR ex-minister hacked to death with machetes

Joseph Kalite murdered by group of men as killing and looting continues in the capital Bangui.

    Tit-for-tat violence has killed more than 2,000 people since December and forced about a million to flee [AP]
    Tit-for-tat violence has killed more than 2,000 people since December and forced about a million to flee [AP]

    A Muslim former minister has been hacked to death by machete-wielding men in the capital of the Central African Republic, as clashes escalated a day after interim President Catherine Samba-Panza took office.

    At least nine other people were killed when bands of people, some of them Christian self-defence groups, attacked and looted shops in the mostly Muslim Miskine neighbourhood of Bangui on Friday, witnesses said.

    Former minister Joseph Kalite, who once held the housing portfolio, was stepping out of a taxi when he was attacked, a family member now in hiding told the Reuters news agency by phone.  

    "The anti-balaka started attacking him with machetes and sticks and they killed him," said the relative, who requested anonymity. He added that a brother-in-law who was with Kalite at the time of the attack managed to escape.

    The landlocked former French colony descended into chaos last March when the Muslim rebel Seleka coalition seized power, unleashing a wave of killing and looting. That triggered revenge attacks by Christian militia known as "anti-balaka", or "anti-machete".

    The tit-for-tat violence has killed more than 2,000 people since December, and forced about a million more - nearly a quarter of the population - to flee despite the deployment of about 1,600 French troops and 5,000 African Union peacekeepers.

    The minister's body was later recovered and taken to the Ali Babolo Mosque where Reuters reporters saw the mutilated corpse.

    "He wasn't even holding any function within the Seleka, he was excluded by the Seleka, but as he was a Muslim official, they cowardly killed him because of that," Mamoud Hissene, vice president of a Muslim youth organisation, told Reuters.

    New government

    Taking advantage of the disbanding and disarming of some Seleka forces, anti-balaka bands are carrying out revenge attacks on them and the minority Muslim population they accuse of colluding with the Seleka.

    Anti-balaka militias began attacking and looting shops in Miskine on Friday, prompting retaliation from Seleka fighters.

    Automatic gunfire and explosions could be heard as residents ran for cover.

    Central African Republic, one of Africa's poorest countries despite its mineral wealth, appointed Bangui mayor Samba-Panza as interim national leader this week.

    Its former President Michel Djotodia, head of the Seleka coalition, stepped down on January 10 under intense international pressure.

    Samba-Panza is expected to appoint a new government in the coming days.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.