18 killed in fresh wave of violence in Central Africa: Official

AFP , Tuesday 23 Dec 2014

At least 18 people have been killed and dozens injured in fresh attacks in the Central African Republic, where dozens have died in a new flare-up in inter-ethnic violence, officials said Tuesday.

The latest attacks took place early Sunday in and around the southwestern towns of Gamboula and Nola, near the border with Cameroon.

Armed Peul herders launched attacks in the early morning, killing at least eight people in the Gamboula area and 10 in Nola, a senior official in the local Mambere-Kadei prefecture told AFP.

"Most of the inhabitants were surprised in their sleep by the attackers who also torched dozens of houses," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

Terrified residents, including some of the injured, had been fleeing the area by motorbike taxi to the east and north, he added.

Fighting was still ongoing Tuesday in Gambouri between the Peul, who are mostly Muslim, and members of the predominantly Christian anti-balaka militia, the source revealed.

Central African Republic has been wracked by violence pitting the Christian majority against the Muslim minority for the past year.

At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured Friday in tit-for-tat attacks in the central region of Bambari between mainly Christian anti-balaka militia on one side and mostly Muslim ex-members of the Seleka rebel alliance and Peul herders on the other, police said.

Several homes were also destroyed in those attacks, which sent villagers fleeing into the bush or to the capital Bangui.

A further 28 people were killed last week in sectarian clashes in the central-west area of Mbres, just days after a reconciliation ceremony.

Central African Republic has suffered numerous coups and bouts of instability since independence from France in 1960, but the March 2013 toppling of President Francois Bozize, a Christian, by the Seleka rebels triggered the worst upheaval to date.

Relentless attacks by the rebels on the Christian population spurred the formation of vigilante groups, who in turn wreaked revenge on Muslim civilians, driving them out of most parts of the country.

Several thousand people were killed in the violence, which plunged the population of 4.8 million into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

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