BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — A minister in Central African Republic's transitional government was kidnapped Sunday by armed men believed to belong to the Christian anti-Balaka militia group, his wife said.
In a separate incident in the country's north, two local officials were reportedly kidnapped by former members of the rival Seleka rebel coalition, which is mostly Muslim.
Central African Republic was hit by unprecedented sectarian violence about a year ago when the anti-Balaka militia moved to oust the Seleka rebels, who had taken control of the country. Both sides have been accused of widespread human rights abuses, and at least 5,000 people have died in the fighting.
Seleka's leader, who was installed as head of state in 2013, stepped down under intense international pressure in early 2014 and a transitional government is currently trying to steer the country to elections. But Sunday's kidnappings, which came soon after a series of kidnappings targeting foreigners, suggest that insecurity and lawlessness are still prevalent throughout the country.
Sports Minister Armel Mingatoloum Sayo was on his way home from church Sunday morning when his car was accosted in Bangui's Galabadja neighborhood by fighters in an unmarked taxi, said Nicaise Danielle Sayo, who was in the car with her husband.
"They instructed us to stop ... They pulled him from his vehicle to put him in their car to head to Boy-Rabe, their stronghold," she said.
Near the northern town of Kaga-Bandoro, two officials working to implement a national dialogue to help the country out of its crisis were kidnapped by former Seleka fighters, residents said.
Kaga-Bandoro Mayor Thomas Ndomete and Gaston Yendemon, the local prefect, were nabbed at a roadblock 10 kilometers outside of the town on Sunday morning, resident Jean-Pierre Ngarassouma said. Several vehicles were also stolen, he added.
In the northeast of the country, ex-Seleka fighers prevented Housing Minister Jacques Ndemanga Kamoun from carrying out a similar mission related to the national dialogue.
"It's a very regrettable incident," he said. "The ex-combatants fired all night from Saturday to Sunday. They say they do not want any government action at this time in this area."