Central Africa Republic: UN Troops Open Fire Against Civilians

In Bangassou, a city in the south east of the Central African Republic, the people are demanding the withdrawal of the Moroccan troops of the UN Peacekeeping Mission.

“The request is legitimate and confirms the request forwarded by Mons. Aguirre, the Catholic Bishop of Bangassou” says Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, leader of the platform of Religious Confessions in the Central African Republic (PCRC), who was part of a delegation sent from the capital Bangui to investigate regarding the situation in and around Bangassou. The delegation comprised representatives of local politics, state administration and the civil society.

A few days ago, a Comboni Bishop Juan José Aguirre Muños of Bangassou, had denounced the troops of MINUSCA (UN Mission in Central Africa), deployed in area for being “trigger happy”. They react to ambushes with indiscriminate firing, hitting also innocent persons.

“Several tens of people were shot dead in Gambo on the 4th and 5th August”, said Bishop Aguirre. “It all began when Anti Balaka militia attacked Gambo, which for the past four years has been in the hands of so called ex-Seleka. More recently, the Seleka increased attacks on the local people, women in particular, many abducted from their homes in front of their husbands. On the 4th August, the Anti Balaka entered Gambo to oust the Seleka”. Anti-balaka Christian militia groups had formed in that country following the rising to power of Michel Djotodia in 2013.

“From what I have been told”, continued the Bishop, “as soon as the Anti Balaka arrived, troops of the MINUSCA UN Mission there immediately opened fire. Reportedly, the Anti Balaka then opened fire on the UN military who in turn in an exaggerated reaction, fired wildly hitting civilians as well. The Anti Balaka were forced to take cover in the forest, while the Seleka, back in Gambo finding a Red Cross Team in the hospital holding a meeting, preceded to slit the throats of all present, men women and children”.

“So the massacre, by the Seleka, was triggered by the reaction out of all proportion of the MINUSCA. UN troops who when attacked usually do have a violent reaction. They are trigger-happy” the Bishop denounced. “I know of a young seminarian and his father being killed by stray bullets coming from MINUSCA mission soldiers. This is all deeply saddening”. “Then I ask myself why, once Gambo had been saved from the Anti Balaka, did the UN MINUSCA leave the people in the hands of the Seleka?” Bishop Aguirre continued. “These so called Peace Keeping Troops whose job is to disarm all the factions in the country, did forcefully disarm the Anti Balaka but not the Seleka who appear more heavily armed than ever. Here is a sense of complicity which we fail to understand” concluded the Bishop.

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