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Bossangoa, Central African Republic: a divided city

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Bossangoa, Central African Republic: a divided city


In the Central African Republic town of Bossangoa, Muslims and Christians used to live together, in relative harmony. Now they’ve fled for fear of their lives to segregated camps.

Religious tensions remain high. The former French colony has slipped into chaos since mainly Muslim rebels seized power in March, leading to tit-for-tat sectarian violence with the Christian militia that sprang up in response.

Forty thousand mostly Christian refugees live in a makeshift camp set up by the city’s Cathedral.

The Christian militiamen, armed with clubs, machetes and hunting rifles, fight to oust the Muslim president from power. The militia are known as the anti-balaka, which means anti-machete in the local Sango language.

A few hundred metres from the Christian camp, 7,000 displaced Muslim refugees live in a camp set up on the site of a school.

One female refugee describes what happened to bring her to the camp: “They have weapons. I have seen that for myself. They came from the church, and they broke everything. They stole everything from my house,” she said.

French forces are working to disarm Muslim and Christian fighters, but the Christian militia hideouts have made them harder to find.

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