5 Muslims killed in communal violence in Bangui

BANGUI – At least five Muslims were killed in the latest bout of sectarian violence in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), according to Muslim community leaders.

Ousmane Abakar, spokesman for the Muslim community in 5km district, the main Muslim neighborhood in Bangui, said the body of a Muslim man was discovered on Sunday morning.

"Four other Muslims were killed while trying to avenge him," he told Anadolu Agency, giving no further details.

Explosions were heard late Saturday and early Sunday throughout the district, according to AA reporter.

Mahamat Moctar, head of the Association of Young Muslims, said the circumstances of what happened remain unclear.

The landlocked country descended into anarchy in 2013 when seleka rebels – said to be mostly Muslim – ousted Christian president Francois Bozize, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.

They installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, as interim president.

The country was plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between Christian anti-balaka militias and the Muslim seleka fighters.

Anti-Muslim violence escalated after Djotodia stepped down in January and was replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian who formerly served as mayor of the capital, Bangui.

Christians, who account for the majority of the country's population, accuse Muslims of supporting former seleka rebels blamed for attacking Christian homes, looting property and carrying out summary executions.

According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), around 173,000 people have been internally displaced by the violence since last December, while 37,000 others have fled to neighboring countries.

Over 30,000 have sought refuge in the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, while Chad has received 5600 and Cameroon roughly 1000 refugees, according to UNHCR figures.

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