Africa

CAR mosque in Bangui destroyed following church attack

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Media captionChristian youths in the Central African Republic have barricaded streets with burning tyres

A group of Christian youths in the Central African Republic have sacked a mosque and barricaded streets with burning tyres in the capital, Bangui.

It comes a day after Seleka militias attacked a church in Bangui with guns and grenades, killing several people.

The mostly Muslim Seleka rebels have been involved in heavy fighting with mainly Christian fighters in the anti-balaka militia since March 2013.

About a quarter of the CAR's population has been displaced by the conflict.

There have been no reports of casualties following the attack on the mosque in Bangui's Lakouanga neighbourhood. One report said that the mosque was empty at the time of the attack.

A spokesman for Bangui's Muslim community, Ousmane Abakar, told AP news agency: "For six months we have been the ones subjected to violence and the destruction of our mosques."

He also condemned Wednesday's attack on the Church of Fatima, but said local Muslims were not responsible for the assault.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Central African Republic has been rocked by conflict between Christian and Muslims
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Angry civilians in Bangui blocked roads with burning tyres
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some have protested against peacekeeping forces, saying they were too slow to stop the church attack
Image copyright AFP
Image caption There are about 7,000 peacekeeping troops in the country trying to prevent further conflict

Wednesday's attack on the church killed about 15 people. It came after hours of fighting in the PK5 neighbourhood of Bangui.

A priest at the church, Jonas Bekas, told the BBC that peacekeeping forces had arrived too late to stop the killings.

"Everybody was running in all directions as they came in the compound and opened fire," he said.

"I called the French and African peacekeepers but the Burundian soldiers arrived too late. All that was left to do was to collect the dead and wounded and bring them in the church."

CAR's religious make-up

  • Christians - 50%
  • Muslims - 15%
  • Indigenous beliefs - 35%

Source: Index Mundi

The Central African Republic is more divided than ever, the BBC's West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy reports.

Three young Muslims were killed and mutilated by Christian militias just a few days ago, and now the Seleka rebel group shows no intention of laying down its weapons, our correspondent adds.

The Seleka rebels were ousted from power in January 2014, but the group still controls large parts of the country's north.

Seleka Prime Minister Michel Djotodia was forced to resign as president after failing to stop anti-Christian attacks.

Since then, there have been widespread reprisals against Muslim civilians, who were almost completely driven out of Bangui in what the UN said amounted to ethnic cleansing.

The African Union, France and the European Union have about 7,000 troops battling to end the conflict.

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