Dozens of bodies recovered after CAR violence
Updated: 2013-12-27 09:16
BANGUI - Red Cross workers have recovered 44 bodies from the streets of Central African Republic's capital Bangui, they said on Thursday after inter-religious fighting in the last two days.
A woman recovers in a hospital in Central African Republic's capital Bangui December 26, 2013.[Photo/Agencies]
Six Chadian peacekeepers have also been killed in the former French colony, while judicial authorities said they had uncovered a mass grave with 30 bodies, many of them showing signs of torture, near a military base used by Seleka rebels.
The rebels seized power in March, unleashing a wave of looting and killing. Thousands of French and African troops have struggled to contain a flare-up in violence in the last week.
The mostly Muslim Seleka and Christian self-defence militias have carried out tit-for-tat attacks on each other and on the local population.
Georgios Georgantas, head of an International Committee of the Red Cross delegation, said the 44 bodies were probably only a fraction of those killed in Bangui in the last two days given that his team had been unable to go into parts of the city.
"Violence has been at extremely high levels," Georgantas told Reuters by telephone. "We have information about more bodies in certain parts of town which we have been unable to access because the fighting was so intense."
People recovers in a hospital in Central African Republic's capital Bangui December 26, 2013.[Photo/Agencies]
A representative of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres at Bangui's main hospital said it had seen more than 50 people since Wednesday night with gunshot or machete wounds from the fighting which raged for hours across Bangui.
A spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping mission (MISCA) said Chadian peacekeepers were attacked by gunmen in the Gabongo neighbourhood near the airport on Wednesday.
"The number of Chadian soldiers killed has risen to six because one of them died from his wounds this morning," Elio Yao told Reuters. He could not give a precise total for the number of African peacekeepers killed so far in the crisis.
Two French troops were killed just days after Paris deployed a 1,600-strong peacekeeping mission in its former colony in early December under a UN mandate to protect civilians.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Thursday that he was appalled by the continued violence, including the reports of dozens more bodies found on the streets of Bangui.
Ban also said he was saddened by the deaths of the six peacekeepers. "Their mission is to provide desperately needed security. They are not part of the conflict between Central Africans," he said.
The violence eased on Thursday as French peacekeepers took up positions on main roads near the airport and in troubled neighbourhoods, although sporadic shooting was reported in several areas during the morning.