RELIGION NEWS Briefs: Muslim ethnic cleansing in CAR

Muslim ethnic cleansing in CAR

Christian militias in Central African Republic have carried out ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population during the country’s ongoing civil war, but there is no proof there was genocidal intent, a United Nations commission of inquiry has said.

“Thousands of people died as a result of the conflict. Human rights violations and abuses were committed by all parties. The Seleka coalition and the anti-balaka are also responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the inquiry said last Thursday.

“Although the commission cannot conclude that there was genocide, ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population by the anti-balaka constitutes a crime against humanity,” the report said.

The final report of the inquiry, which was submitted to the UN Security Council on December 19, said up to 6,000 people had been killed though it “considers that such estimates fail to capture the full magnitude of the killings that occurred”.

The mostly Christian or animist “anti-balaka” militia took up arms in 2013 in response to months of looting and killing by mostly Muslim Seleka rebels who had toppled President Francois Bozize and seized power in March the same year. The UN Security Council established the commission of inquiry in December 2013.

In September 2014, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into allegations of murder, rape and the recruiting of child soldiers in the Central African Republic.

Some 5,600 African Union peacekeepers, deployed in December 2013, and about 2,000 French troops have struggled to stem the violence in the impoverished landlocked country of 4.6 million people — a ljazeera.com.

 

Boko Haram killings spread terror

Last month saw a spate of Boko Haram attacks across north-eastern Nigeria, the massacre of around 90 people in Cameroon, and first-time attacks in Niger and Chad. Apparently outraged by Chadian and African Union decisions to provide military units to combat the scourge of radical Islamism in West Africa, the group is taking its revenge on Christians and on Muslims who do not share their ideology.

In the last week of February alone there were five incidents in Nigeria. On 26 February, a suicide bomber at a bus station in Biu, in Nigeria’s Borno state, killed at least 17 people as he blew himself up.

On the same day, 15 people died as a result of bombs thrown from a car at a bus station and the university in the city of Jos, in central Nigeria.

Educational facilities are a regular target of Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”.

Just two days earlier, a suicide bomber attempting to board a bus at the Dan-Borno bus station in Potiskum, in Nigeria’s north-eastern Yobe state, killed 17 people; over 30 more were injured.

Just hours after the attack, another suicide bomber at the Kano Line bus station in Kano city killed 10 people after detonating the explosives strapped to his body while he got off a bus. And on 22 February, a young girl thought to be no more than eight years old, detonated the explosives strapped to her body, killing five people just outside a market in Potiskum.

This is the third time this year that Boko Haram is suspected to have used children as suicide bombers. Parents in Nigeria are being warned to take extra care of their children when they are outside the home, lest they be given explosive devices as “toys”.

Earlier in the month, Boko Haram struck Niger and Chad for the first time. After African Union countries agreed on 30 January to back a 7,500-strong unit to fight against the insurgency group, Boko Haram retaliated by attacking towns in Niger and Chad on 6 and 13 February respectively.

Christian homes in Niger had been marked with the sign “P52” to identify them for attack. “We never thought that Boko Haram would attack us, because we trust our security forces,” commented a church leader from Niger. — crossmap.com

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