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Clashes in C.Africa town kill at least 75: priest

French Army Chief of Staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud (L) walks with the commander of the Sangaris operation, General Francisco Soriano (R) on Febuary 3, 2014 at the Mpoko camp in Bangui. AFP PHOTO/ ISSOUF SANOGO

BANGUI: At least 75 people have been killed in clashes in a town in the strife-torn Central African Republic since Tuesday and the fighting is still going on, a local priest told AFP.

Cassien Kamatari said his parish was sheltering 1,500 people who had fled the violence between Christians and Muslims in the town of Boda, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the capital Bangui.

"Heavily-armed Muslims erected barricades at the entrance and exit to the town and launched attacks on Christians, forcing them to flee," he told AFP by telephone on Monday.

"At least 60 people were killed and many others injured, 15 of whom died of their injuries," Kamatari added.

All those victims were Christian, he said. The number of Muslim victims could not be determined because their bodies were buried immediately.

The former French colony descended into chaos last March when a group of mainly Muslim rebels known as the Seleka overthrew the government and installed one of their leaders, Michel Djotodia, as the country's first Muslim president.

The coup unleashed a cycle of inter-religious violence that has raged nearly unabated for 10 months despite the presence of French and African peacekeeping troops.

Around 80 percent of the population is Christian, but it has a significant Muslim minority who live mainly in the north.

Kamatari said the fighting in Boda began after former Seleka rebels who were preparing to leave the area told the local Muslim population to group together so they could defend themselves against possible attack from Christians.

The fighting erupted on Tuesday after the former Seleka left the area.

"Those who have taken refuge in the parish have nothing to eat, they want for everything. While those who are still trapped in their homes are being hounded," said Kamatari.

He said he had appealed for help from the French force in the Central African Republic but so far had no response.

 

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Summary

At least 75 people have been killed in clashes in a town in the strife-torn Central African Republic since Tuesday and the fighting is still going on, a local priest told AFP.

Cassien Kamatari said his parish was sheltering 1,500 people who had fled the violence between Christians and Muslims in the town of Boda, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the capital Bangui.

Around 80 percent of the population is Christian, but it has a significant Muslim minority who live mainly in the north.


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