Judith Lea, 47, came with a family of 20 including her 3-day-old grandson to escape violence in their neighborhood on the north side of the capital. As people settled in for the night, she and the other female relatives argued over what to name the little boy who has spent nearly his entire life in a displacement camp.
“When the Seleka rebels came to the house, they stole his blankets and all the little things we had bought for him,” Lea said, stretched out on the ground to rest. “When this war is over, what will we do? He is cold and hasn’t had his vaccines yet.”
Most of the displaced in Bangui are Christian: ex-Seleka have not targeted Muslim neighborhoods. But anger over the attacks has prompted vicious reprisals on Muslim civilians in other parts of the country. Nearly a dozen Muslim women and children were slain less than a week ago just outside the capital in an attack blamed on the Christian fighters.
Seleka are blamed for scores of atrocities since taking power, tying civilians together and throwing them off bridges to drown and burning entire villages to the ground. Anger over such abuses has fanned a backlash against Muslim civilians, who make up only about 15 percent of the population. The anti-balaka, the armed Christian movement that has arisen in response to the Seleka attacks, is widely believed to be supported by former army soldiers loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.