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Street Lynching Latest in Central African Republic’s Reprisal Violence

Brutal lynching in a Central African Republic town square is the latest in the cycle of violence.

by Olivia Becker
Feb 5 2014, 11:21pm

Robert King

The latest display of brutal violence in the Central African Republic came Wednesday with the lynching of a man by a crowd of troops following a presentation attended by the country's new President.

The attack is the latest in the cycle of reprisal violence between the Christian militias known as “anti-balaka” (balaka meaning machete, in Sango) and the Seleka, a mostly Muslim rebel coalition.

Troops in uniform attacked a man suspected of being a former Seleka member, using knives and concrete blocks to mutilate his body and then drag him through the streets, according to The Associated Press. This is the latest example of the intense fighting that began in March of last year, when the Muslim Seleka fighters seized the capital and took control of the government.

Since, attacks against Christian and Muslim civilians by opposing groups have killed nearly 2000 people so far – including 1000 just in the past month - and displaced over one million, according to the UN. Since French and African Union troops began disarming Seleka rebels in early December, the anti-balaka have engaged in a wave of tit-for-tat attacks on both Muslim rebels and civilians, while Seleka forces have only briefly slowed their marauding against civilians.

Over 70 civilians have been killed and dozens of houses destroyed in the town of Boda, about 62 miles west of the capital city of Bangui, Reuters reported on Monday.

In an effort to curb the violence and prevent the conflict from growing into a full-blown genocide, France has sent 1600 troops to assist the 5000 African Union troops already there. Additionally, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza was elected earlier this year, after the self-appointed Muslim president Djotodia stepped aside in January.

Yet this latest attack highlights how ineffective these actions have been on the country’s stability, especially since the attack was carried out by CAR soldiers in the presence of peacekeeping troops, and just moments after the interim President Samba-Panza drove away.

Despite mounting concerns from both the UN and neighboring countries, there seems to be little hope of the violence letting up any time soon.