BANGUI, Central African Republic: A Red Cross official said at least a dozen bodies have been found in a mass grave in Central African Republic’s capital.
Antoine Mbao-Bogo, president of the local Red Cross, said Thursday the corpses had been found at a military camp that had been used by the Seleka rebels who controlled the country until last month.
The Muslim rebels were blamed for scores of atrocities during their 10-month rule, including killing suspected opponents. Authorities could not immediately identify the victims in the mass grave.
Anger over Seleka’s abuses led to retaliation by an armed Christian militia and sectarian fighting in the capital left more than 1,000 people dead in just a few days back in December. Now Muslim civilians are being attacked and tens of thousands have fled the country.
In the north, a parallel conflict over resources, wealth and territory is emerging. UN officials and human rights activists are concerned that Kaga Bandoro and other northern towns could soon become frontlines and humanitarian disaster zones, potentially dividing the poor but mineral-rich nation.
“This is our fear,” Aboud Dieng, the top UN humanitarian official for the Central African Republic, said during a recent visit to this town. “The Seleka say they will try to partition the country. This is a very important part of the country where they may be trying to establish a stronghold to control the rest of the country.”
Kaga Bandoro straddles the edge of the country’s remote northeast region, where Muslims are a majority and the Seleka rebel movement was born.
In March, Seleka rebels from the north seized power in a coup, installing their leader, Michel Djotodia, as the country’s first Muslim president. The rebels brutally targeted Christians, killing hundreds and forcing several hundred thousand from their homes. That triggered the creation of Christian militias known as the anti-Balaka — translated as “anti-machete” in the local Sango language — which attacked Muslim communities.