Rebel leader arrested in Central African Republic

AP News
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Posted: Jan 18, 2015 2:04 PM

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — A leader of Central African Republic's anti-Balaka Christian militia, a widely feared commander who has been implicated in attacks on civilians throughout the battle-scarred country, has been arrested, a justice official said Sunday.

Rodrigue Ngaibona, alias Andilo, was arrested in the town of Bouca on Saturday by Cameroonian peacekeepers, prosecutor Maurice Dibert-Dollet said in a statement. An arrest warrant was issued last May linking Ngaibona to murders, rapes and looting during the country's unprecedented sectarian violence in which thousands have died.

The anti-Balaka militia formed in response to widespread human rights abuses committed by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition, which toppled the president of a decade in 2013 and installed its leader, Michel Djotodia, as head of state.

A U.N. expert panel has described Ngaibona as "a feared and powerful commander" of the militia, and Amnesty International said in a December report that he had been linked to attacks on civilians "in many parts of the country." Residents of the capital, Bangui, have accused his elements of widespread racketeering and extortion.

French and Central African forces carried out a failed joint operation to arrest Ngaibona last October.

Djotodia stepped down in early 2014 under intense international pressure, and the country is currently being led by a transitional government that is trying to organize elections.