At least 83 Nigerians have been killed in the Central African Republic capital Bangui in the latest wave of sectarian violence following months of political crisis, a community leader said yesterday.
The CAR has been in chaos since rebel leader Michel Djotodia ousted President Francois Bozize in March.
Fuelled by ethnic rivalries, the conflict has also now become sectarian in nature as Djotodia installed himself as the first Muslim leader in the Christian-majority country, sparking months of bloody clashes between rival fighters.
A Nigerian community leader resident in Bangui, Muhammad Kalanbai, who spoke to Newsmen by telephone yesterday, said most of the Nigerians killed in the latest violence were Muslims from the North.
“As I am speaking to you now, there are 16 bodies of Nigerian Muslims at the Ali Baglo mosque in Bangui, who were not buried because of the violence,” said Kalanbai, who is the leader of northern Nigerians living in that country.
“Just last week over 67 Nigerian Muslims were killed by the supporters of Bozize. We are under serious attack.
“As I am talking to you now, you can even hear gunshots. I narrowly escaped being killed yesterday,” he added.
Reuters news agency reported that much of the wide-scale violence that has killed hundreds in the last week has eased but reporters in Bangui saw a mosque set on fire, houses looted and cars torched yesterday.
Residents reported several lynchings overnight too.
Kalanbai said yesterday that supporters of Bozize were being given protection by the French forces, instead of restraining them.
“The French forces, instead of protecting civilians, ended up only backing the rebels who are busy killing Muslims with machetes, daggers and other weapons,” he said.
He said that the Nigerian Muslims living in the country were “now rushing to the Nigerian embassy in Bangui for protection.”
He urged the Federal Government to evacuate them back to Nigeria.