CAR crisis: Peacekeepers escort Muslims out of Bangui

People stand atop a vehicle loaded with people and goods in the PK-12 district of Bangui Those fleeing loaded up the convoy with whatever belongings they could carry

Peacekeepers have escorted more than 1,200 Muslims out of the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui.

They were some of the last remaining Muslims in the city, who have been targeted by mainly Christian militias in the country's civil conflict.

The country has been hit by civil conflict since Seleka rebels ousted the president in March 2013.

The largely Muslim Seleka rebels were accused of targeting Christians, prompting worsening sectarian violence.

There are also reports that at least 22 people, including 15 local chiefs and three local workers for the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), were killed in an attack in the town of Nanga Boguila.

The killings happened on Saturday with most of the victims dying when an MSF-run clinic was attacked, Gilles Xavier Nguembassa, a former MP for the area, told Reuters.

Mr Nguembassa said Seleka rebels were responsible for the attack.

A Christian man carries property left behind by Muslims in PK-12 Looters descended on the PK-12 district after the convoy left
'Ethnic cleansing'

The convoy carrying Muslims from Bangui's PK-12 district headed to the relative safety of two towns in the north of the country.

Shortly after the convoy left, looters descended on the district to strip houses and businesses, and even the mosque.

"We didn't want the Muslims here and we don't want their mosque here any more either,'' looter Guy Richard told AP.

Some Muslims do remain in Bangui but thousands have fled Christian-majority areas in recent weeks, heightening fears of a de facto partition of the country.

Amnesty International has accused peacekeepers of failing to prevent ethnic cleansing.

"I leave with a heavy heart but we have been chased from here," PK-12 resident Tonga Djobo told AP.

Children have been victims of horrendous attacks

Aid agencies have warned the expulsions could exacerbate a food crisis, as many of the shops and wholesalers were run by Muslims.

CAR's religious make-up

  • Christians - 50%
  • Muslims - 15%
  • Indigenous beliefs - 35%

Source: Index Mundi

Around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people have fled their homes due to the conflict.

After the mainly Muslim rebel Seleka group deposed President Francois Bozize and installed their leader Michel Djotodia as president, it was accused of targeting Christians.

In January, Mr Djotodia was in turn forced to step down amid criticism he had not done enough to stem sectarian violence.

Since then, Muslims have been singled out for attack, with thousands fleeing their homes, many to neighbouring countries such as Cameroon and Chad.

Some 5,000 African Union and 2,000 French troops in CAR have failed to halt the bloodshed and the UN Security Council has approved plans to deploy a force of around 12,000 later this year.

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