The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

December 9, 2013

France, AU send troops to Africa

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Zumbeti Thierry Tresor, 23, was among those slain after he tried to cross through another neighborhood to visit family members in another part of Bangui. Seleka fighters shot him in the neck and stomach, his friends said. On Saturday, neighbors hiked the rocky path to his one-room home where his covered body lay on the floor underneath neatly hung music posters.

Outside the front door, his wife wailed hysterically, gripping their 3-year-old daughter in her lap as neighbors crowded around her. Alongside their house, a team of a dozen men with sticks and shovels dug Tresor’s grave under the shade of a tree.

“We want the French army to come and protect us,” said Tresor’s friend, Francois Yayi. “We have no police to call. The Seleka will kill us all.”

He and his friends begin counting on their fingers the number of neighbors slain amid the latest spasm of bloodshed. At least 10, they determine, have died since Thursday.

As families mourned their dead, others fled by the thousands to the few known safe places in the capital — the airport guarded by French troops and the grounds of a Catholic center run by the Salesians of Don Bosco. About 3,000 people had fled to the complex on Thursday when the fighting began and that swelled to 12,000 by Saturday.

“We have no water, no food, no medicine — we have nothing,” said Pierre Claver Agbetiafan, looking around the center where he works.

As dusk fell, hundreds of people began lining up outside the mission’s doors for a safe place to sleep, carting foam mattresses and plastic buckets of food on their heads. Some even toted wheeled luggage, not knowing when they could return. Every bit of ground near the tennis courts was crowded with families preparing for a night on damp ground under the open sky. The air filled with smoke as women tended small fires to prepare dinner.

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