The blood of the martyrs, both Christian and Muslim, is flowing in the streets of Bangui. After three days of fighting in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, there are 35 dead and 65 injured, the Red Cross reports. The fresh violence comes following a recent inauguration of a new head of state, Catherine Samba-Panza. The quick inauguration of a new leader is meant to quell a savage conflict in the country that has left more than 2,000 dead in all. The BBC has the story:
What started out as a conflict fueled by ethnic rivalries has become religious in nature, with the emergence of Christian “anti-balaka” militias taking on the former rebels. Both sides have been accused of targeting civilians (…)Earlier this week, a human rights worker told the BBC how he had witnessed a mob of suspected “anti-balakas” mutilating the body of two Muslim men recently killed with machetes.“It really was a scene of absolute horror. People were filming this on their cell phones and many were laughing,” Peter Bouckaert, director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
The chaos in the former French colony is quickly turning hellish, with some observers warning that it could become a genocide. Lynchings, rapes, public burnings, and child killings are just some of the reported atrocities that define the conflict. Samba-Panza’s interim government has recently called on the United Nations to send in more peacekeeping troops; the current violence is ongoing despite 1,600 French troops and 5,000 African Union troops already in the country. The European Union has announced that it will deploy about 500 soldiers.What started out as a political conflict has turned into a full fledged vicious religious war, with the county’s Muslim minority and Christians going tit-for-tat in a horrifying cycle of revenge killings. Lynchings, rapes, public burnings, and child killings are just some of the reported atrocities that define the conflict.Indiscriminate murder, dismemberments, even cases of cannibalism have been reported.Unfortunately, the Central African Republic is less of an outlier than one could wish. Africa’s God Wars are spreading. When religious identity and ethnic and economic conflict get mixed up together, where the state is weak and where people live close to the edge, it doesn’t take much to spark an explosion. Moderate and traditional religious leaders in many parts of the continent have been losing ground to more radical clerics on both the Christian and Muslim sides.The God Wars are getting more brutal across Africa—and of course not only in Africa. The 21st century is looking less peaceful and less secular than many people expected or hoped.