1,000 killed in communal clashes over two weeks

Although a relative calm has returned to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, almost a thousand persons are estimated to have died in the communal clashes that rocked this vast landlocked nation for two weeks. The fighting has opposed Christian and Muslim militia and there has been blind killing on both sides with the use of machetes and other crude weapons wielded with deadly and terrifying force.

With a terrorised population choosing to remain indoors, commerce has failed to pick up and the truce remains uneasy with organisations like Human Rights Watch warning against a renewed “intensification of sectarian atrocities.”

Amnesty International, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have placed the death toll so far at about 900 with over 450 deaths occurring in Bangui alone.

It is alleged, however, that Muslim ex-rebels, known as the Seleka group, who retaliated after Christian militiamen went from door to door hacking Muslim men to death, are alleged to have carried out the majority of the attacks.

France, the United Nations and the African Union have mustered troops who have managed to restore calm, but NGOs say violence could flare up again anytime.

The Central African Republic has a history of corruption and political instability with regular coups d’états carried out by disaffected soldiers. The last elected government led by Francois Bozize was overthrown by a coalition of opposition rebels known as the Seleka. Since then the country has been in a state of continued chaos and anarchy.

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