CAR militants free abducted sports minister

BANGUI – Central African Republic (CAR) Sports Minister Armel Sayo has been freed by militants following 16 days in captivity, a family member said Wednesday.

"We still don't know the circumstances of his release, but we know he was delivered to the security forces on Tuesday," the family member told The Anadolu Agency.

Sayo was abducted two weeks ago by unidentified militants while leaving Sunday church services in the capital, Bangui.  

The kidnappers had later demanded a ransom of 4 million Central African francs (around $8,000) for his release.

In an audio recording released following his abduction, Sayo said his captors linked his kidnapping to the recent arrest of Rodrigue Ngaibona, chief of the Christian anti-balaka militia, by multinational forces deployed in the country.

Ngaibona was recently arrested by UN troops on suspicions of involvement in the murder of dozens of Muslims since 2013.

In that year, CAR descended into anarchy and violence when Muslim seleka rebels removed President Francois Bozize, a Christian who had come to power in a 2003 coup.

The rebels later installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, as interim president.

Djotodia stepped down early last year to be replaced by a Christian leader amid a wave of sectarian violence.

Since then, the country has been plagued by tit-for-tat violence between Christian anti-balaka militiamen and former seleka fighters.

The 12,000-troop UN mission (MINUSCA) began deploying in the troubled central African country last year under a UN Security Council mandate.

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