NAIROBI, Kenya, (BP) — Muslim militants slaughtered 26 civilians in a predominantly Christian village in the Central African Republic on Friday (Sept. 16), the worst violence in the embattled country in months, sources said.
Rebels from the former Seleka group attacked the village of Ndomete, about 220 miles north of the capital city of Bangui, at 8 p.m. and went door-to-door killing Christians, a source in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo told Morning Star News.
Fighting between Seleka, officially disbanded in 2013, and Christian “anti-Balaka” militias has increased in the past year, but government and U.N. officials said Friday’s attack targeted civilians. Violence between Muslim and Christian militias hit nearby Kaga-Bandoro, where the Central African Republic’s U.N. peacekeeping mission reportedly quelled the violence over the weekend, but an area Christian leader cast doubt on the country’s ability to bring order.
“If the government is not going to beef up the security, then we are going to defend ourselves,” he said. “We shall not keep quiet as our brothers are dying.”
Hostility between Muslims and Christians worsened in 2013, when Seleka deposed then-President Francois Bozize and installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim. Djotodia announced the disbanding of Seleka in September 2013, but the rebels have since rampaged throughout the country, killing Christians and political enemies, leading to the formation of Christian militias to counter them.
Human Rights Watch has documented executions, rape and looting by ex-Seleka fighters. On May 28, 2014, rebels killed 11 people in a grenade and shooting attack at the Church of Fatima in Bangui.
In February former prime minister Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected president, bringing hope that political and religious conflict would subside, but rebel and militia fighters are still active outside the capital.