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‘Score-settling’ in C. African Republic kills 13

January 12, 2014

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Scattered violence in the capital of Central African Republic, including two consecutive nights of intense gunfire in some neighborhoods, has killed 13 people since Michel Djotodia announced his resignation from the presidency on Friday, the local Red Cross said Sunday.

The victims were mostly targeted in isolated incidents of “score-settling” and the number was likely to rise as violence continued in pockets of Bangui, Antoine Mbao-Bogo, the local Red Cross president, said.

“Among the dead we’ve found night watchmen, street children and the victims of stray bullets,” Mbao-Bogo said.

Many streets in Bangui were deserted Sunday with residents of some neighborhoods holed up fearing further violence.

Backed by his mostly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance, Djotodia seized power in March. On Friday, he agreed to step aside along with his prime minister at a regional summit in Chad amid mounting pressure over his failure to stem widespread violence pitting Muslims and Christians against each other.

The violence reached new heights in December, killing more than 1,000 people and prompting nearly 1 million to flee their homes. Seleka attacks on Christian civilians led to retaliatory attacks by Christian militias against Muslim civilians and mosques.

Religious violence continued this weekend amid uncertainty over who will rule the chronically unstable country and lay the groundwork for new elections. A national transitional council led by Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet has two weeks to choose another interim president to replace Djotodia.

In Bangui’s Boulata neighborhood, Muslim youths claiming to seek revenge for Djotodia’s exit set fire to a church, said Eric Dibelet, the pastor at a neighboring church.

Children in the Sica-Saidou neighborhood stole items from a mosque before setting it alight, saying they were avenging the killing of a Christian the night before, said witness Didier Serge Ngoalessio. He said soldiers from the African Union peacekeeping force intervened to interrupt the attack.

And in Galabadja, a distraught former member of Seleka opened fire seemingly at random on Saturday, killing and injuring an untold number of bystanders, said witness Sylvain Namboa.

“The shots are still continuing in the neighborhood today, and no one can leave right now,” Namboa said. “Many people fled the neighborhood earlier, but those who are left are staying inside.”

Djotodia sought exile in the West African nation of Benin on Saturday, flying on a plane lent by the president of Chad and landing in Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital, in the afternoon.

On Sunday afternoon, Constitutional Court President Zacharie Ndouba took note of the resignations of Djotodia and former Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye in remarks on national radio.

Nguendet, the leader of the transitional council, has vowed to restore order well before the next elections, urging members of the armed forces to re-establish their ranks to support the transitional authorities.

Update hourly