US Appalled By Murder Of Civilians
Nearly 100 innocent civilians including women and children died as fighting between rival militias broke out in the Central African capital of Bangui.
Witnesses say at least 98 dead of which 48 bodies were found in a mosque. Reports also revealed that there were other reports of bodies lying around the city.
Heavy gunfire erupted across Bangui on Thursday as the Muslim ex-Seleka forces clashed with local christian anti-balaka forces.
The crisis in the Central African Republic has escalated in recent months as rival Christian and Muslim groups continue to engage in heavy clashes.
UN Peacekeepers Now Deployed
Today, the U.N. Security Council has authorized the deployment of more French and African peacekeepers to contain the escalating violence.
The African forces in CAR are expected to increase from around 2,500 at present to 3,600 by year’s end.
US condemns the murder of innocent civilians
In a press statement in Washington DC, Deputy Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said the United States is appalled by today’s reports of the murder of innocent women and children outside of Bangui.
“This horrifying account is the latest in a string of reports that illustrate the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the Central African Republic.” – Ms. Harf
She stated that the latest report of violence could lead to an escalation in violence and further atrocities.
US Efforts To Stop The Violence
According to Ms. Harf, the US is working with its partners in the international community, including through efforts on the United Nations Security Council, to find the swiftest and most effective vehicle for stabilizing the situation.
The US just recently announced $40 million in assistance to the African Union-led stabilization mission (MISCA), to help protect civilians, and provide security throughout the country.
“We welcome France’s decision to reinforce its military presence in the Central African Republic.” – Ms. Harf
Ms. Harf reiterated that the United States remains committed to supporting the international community’s efforts to find a solution that protects civilians, restores security, ensures greater humanitarian access, and puts CAR on a path back to democratic governance.
Seleka Rebels Gain Momentum
In December 2012, due to concerns about the security of US personnel, the US State Department temporarily suspended its operations in the Central African Republic.
Reports say Seleka rebels have taken several key towns and cities, including the diamond centre of Bria.
The US State Department ordered its diplomatic team to evacuate as rebels continued to advance and violence escalated.
The U.S. ambassador and diplomatic staff flew out of Bangui to Kenya. US Ambassador Wohlers and his diplomatic team left Bangui along with several private U.S. citizens.
The United States encouraged all parties in the Central African Republic to participate in the dialogue to be held under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) to develop a comprehensive agreement that will offer a new vision of peace and security for the country.
Earlier in December 2012, towns were attacked by the ‘Seleka’ coalition of armed groups and the government lost the town of Kaga Bandoro to northern rebels.
The Seleka rebel coalition gained momentum in its advances and attacks in the latter part of this month.