Militia violence in leaves 300 dead

The violence marks a sharp escalation in the long conflict that began when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition overthrew then-president Francois Bozize in 2013.

A Moroccan peacekeeper from the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) patrols in Bangui on December 24, 2015 ahead the country presidential elections

The violence marks a sharp escalation in the long conflict that began when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition overthrew then-president Francois Bozize in 2013, prompting reprisals from Christian anti-balaka militias.

The UN humanitarian office and the minister of social affairs said in a joint statement that the clash in the last two weeks has hit the towns of Bria, Bangassou and Alindao, all hundreds of kilometres east of Bangui.

Social Affairs Minister Virginie Baikoua told newsmen after a visit on Wednesday to Bria that it was a catastrophe.

“Houses are burnt down, others pillaged, the displaced are afraid it could degenerate at any moment because armed men are roaming around the camps.

“Over 41,400 of Bria’s 47,500 inhabitants were displaced by fighting between May 15 and 18,’’ Baikoua said.

The Red Cross recently said it had found 115 bodies in Bangassou, a diamond-mining area on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo after it was seized by hundreds of militia with heavy weaponry.

“UN peacekeepers, part of a 13,000-strong force, have since secured Bangassou and reinforced their positions in other areas,’’ the mission (MINUSCA) said in a statement.

About 440,000 people were displaced throughout the country by the end of April and that number could reach 500,000 by the end of May.

The UN humanitarian office said the huge number would represent the most displaced since the height of the crisis in 2013.

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