Rwandan peacekeepers in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui were on Sunday morning compelled to use live ammunition to disperse an armed mob that attacked a Muslim community and killed two people.
Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita, the military and defence spokesperson, told The New Times that trouble started when mobs attacked Muslim households on Saturday night.
“Moslems defended themselves, killing six of the attackers. They (Moslems) then fled to the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) base. Mobs pursued them in the morning and killed two people. They then dragged the dead bodies near the RDF base while threatening to kill others,” he said.
Nzabamwita said the RDF fired at the attackers to stop more lynching and burning of copses.
“In the process of protecting civilians and stopping the burning and looting, one of the attackers was hit by a bullet and died. The situation was contained and RDF is intensifying patrols to protect civilians in Bangui,” Nzabamwita added.
Earlier, Peter Bouckaert, Emergency Director at Human Rights Watch, tweeted: “Furious mobs in Kolongo, Bangui burning Muslim shops, two lynched after Seleka killed six at night, one of mob shot dead by African Union International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (Misca) troops.”
The RDF recently deployed 850 servicemen and women in the CAR as part of Misca. They are operating alongside French forces deployed under a UN Security Council Resolution.
The peacekeepers are operating under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII, which spells out the UN Security Council’s powers to maintain peace. The troops which have a 12-month mandate are charged with protecting civilians, stabilising the country, restoring State authority and creating a conducive atmosphere for the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Fighting intensified in CAR following the toppling of government by a Muslim-led rebel group last March.
The rebels then embarked on a looting and killing spree in Bangui forcing a Christian militia to retaliate. Thousands of people died in the ensuing mellee compelling the Muslim rebel leader to step down from the presidency. The new president is yet to end the violence.
In the most recent notorious murder, soldiers killed and mutilated a suspected rebel last Wednesday in front of hundreds of peacekeepers and other onlookers at a military ceremony that had been attended by the new interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza.
“It is unfortunate that we were not able to intervene and save him,” Eloi Yao, spokesman for the African mission, told Ap.