Eight killed in Central African Republic days after pope's visit

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2015 1:14 PM

BANGUI (Reuters) - Armed men in the Central African Republic killed eight civilians at a camp for displaced people and wounded one U.N. peacekeeper, just days after the pope visited the capital, the country's U.N. humanitarian coordinator said on Friday.

The attacks took place at Ngakobo, about 60 km (40 miles) south of the central town of Bambari on Thursday, coordinator Aurelien Agbenonci said in a statement.

Five of the rebels from the mainly Muslim coalition called the Seleka that attacked the camp were killed and two were wounded, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General.

"The U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, reports that over the past couple of days several incidents involving anti-balaka and ex-Seleka groups in Bambari have raised tensions in the town," Haq said, referring to rival militia groups.

Pope Francis visited a mosque in the capital on Monday to implore Christians and Muslims to end a spiral of hate, vendetta and bloodshed that has killed thousands over the past three years and divided the nation.

Christian and Muslim groups welcomed the visit and it raised hopes for an end to violence, but a Muslim man was killed on Tuesday in an enclave of the capital besieged by Christian militia groups.

Central African Republic turned violent in early 2013 when Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country, sparking reprisals from Christian militias called the anti-balaka. Leaders from both sides say the hatred has been manipulated for political gain.

One result of the violence was the expulsion of Muslims from parts of the south towards the center and north of the country which is now effectively controlled by Muslim groups.

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Ralph Boulton)