Rebel gunmen kill 34 in Central African Republic: officials

Sun Aug 17, 2014 9:53am GMT

By Crispin Dembassa-Kette

BANGUI (Reuters) - Rebels armed with guns and knives killed 34 people in Central African Republic, hanging some civilians and slitting others' throats in a series of attacks this week, officials said.

Fighters from the Seleka insurgent group, sometimes backed by herdsmen, raided small central settlements, said authorities, more than a year after a coup plunged the impoverished country into sectarian violence.

Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim fighters which seized power in March 2013 then later handed over to an interim government under international pressure, said it would look into the accusations. Spokesman Ahmat Nejad said anyone found guilty should be punished.

"Fighters from Seleka and some Fulani shot the victims at point blank range, slit their throats or hung them up by ropes," the mayor of Mbres, Bienvenue Sarapata, told Reuters on Saturday.

"Three young people were hanged on Wednesday afternoon. Other villagers were assassinated in the town centre," he said, adding that he had fled to the nearby town of Kaga-Bandora with hundreds of others.

The mayor's first counsellor Christine Ouadjapou said 34 people had killed in the attack on Mbres and surrounding villages from August 10-15.

Rights groups accused Seleka of widespread killings and other abuses after it took power.

Christian "anti-balaka" militias took up arms in response to the violence, carrying out their own wave of sectarian killings, said activists, and pushing the rebels and thousands of Muslims northwards.   Continued...

A boy gestures in front of a barricade on fire during a protest after French troops opened fire at protesters blocking a road in Bambari. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
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