Source: Relief Web

“A part of the displaced have left the Saint Joseph Cathedral and sought refuge at the prefecture and gendarmerie headquarters, both guarded by French soldiers of Operation Sangaris and African MISCA troops. There is a precarious calm in the city, with notable tension”, reports Radio Ndeke Luka, just 48 hours after the attack on the displaced camp set up next to the Cathedral, home to the Bishop’s offices, in the town of Bambari, in the heart of the Central African Republic (CAR).

The attack was carried out by members of the former Seleka rebel coalition, backed by Muslim residents of Bambari, and claimed by Colonel Djuma Narkoyo as “retaliation for the killing of two Peul youths a few hours earlier” in the Muslim area of Adji. Based on the latest official reports, 23 people were killed and a few dozen injured in the attack on the camp, where some 10,000 people were sheltered, among whom also allegedly infiltrates of the Anti-Balaka, Seleka’s rival. Some twenty homes were destroyed, the Bishop’s residence was looted and torched, as also several vehicles.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in CAR condemned “the indiscriminate and unacceptable violence against the displaced of St. Joseph’s Cathedral”, calling on all sides to “respect the protection of civilians and guarantee their safety”.

The dissident wing of the Seleka – whose numerical composition remains unknown – announced the creation of a ‘national political and military coordination’. Their declared aim is to defend the interests of the Christians who since December 2012 joined the Muslim majority rebel coalition in protest against the administration of president François Bozizé, ousted in a March 2013 coup. The dissident group accuses Bangui authorities and international community of “abandoning” them and “thinking only of the Muslims of Seleka”.

After a visit to CAR, French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced “a spiral of hatred and vendetta between the conflicting groups”, warning that “only a cease-fire and peace process will guarantee the nation a future”.

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