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Armed violence kills 16 in Central African Republic

Doctors Without Borders says situation remains tense and violence may increase at any time

Armed violence kills 16 in Central African Republic

By Felix Nkambeh Tih


At least 16 people have been killed and several houses burned in armed violence in Batangafo, north of Central African Republic (CAR), a local media outlet reported.

The clashes erupted after members of the Christian anti-Balaka militia, attempted to occupy territories belonging to the Central African Patriotic Movement (MPC), a faction of the Muslim Seleka rebellion.

"Since Oct. 23, 2017, armed violence has debilitated the village of Saragba, a kilometer from Batangafo," the Association of Journalists for Human Rights in Central African Republic (RJDH) said.

''The violence has so far killed 16 people,'' said the association, without giving any further details of the casualties.

Humanitarian organizations say access to the area is difficult because of the ongoing violence.

''Most residents of the region are hiding in bushes to protect themselves from danger. The site for internally displaced persons has also been attacked. All activities are paralyzed; there is no trade, children do not attend school, the administration is not working. So far, no assistance has been provided to this vulnerable population,” said a local source in Batangafo quoted by the association.

"The situation in and around Batangafo is very tense and the violence can increase at any time,'' according to international humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has received several injured people.

"Locals have developed psychological problems. We are being told about injured people who do not dare to come to the hospital for fear of being attacked on the way," Caroline Ducarme, MSF head of mission, currently in Batangafo, said in a statement.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited the country last week. He called on the international community to act in solidarity to help Central African Republic deal with chaos and violence.

Guterres said the country is at risk of plunging back into a war.

The country has been wracked by violence since Muslim Seleka rebels ousted then President Francois Bozize, a Christian, in 2013.

Fierce fighting has continued between the Seleka and Christian anti-Balaka rebels, forcing nearly half the country's population to depend on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

Since August, more than 500 former combatants have joined a disarmament program that seeks to reintegrate fighters into civilian and military life.

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