French forces in Central African Republic (Images: AA)
French forces in Central African Republic (Images: AA)

Bangui, 10 Shawwal 1435/6 August 2014 (MINA) – The Seleka Muslim militia in the Central African Republic has accused French peacekeepers of breaching a recent peace deal and instigating deadly clashes in the northern city of Batangafo.

“On Monday, the anti-Balaka [Christian militia] attacked our positions in Batangafo, prompting us to respond,” General Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, vice-president of the Seleka coalition, told Anadolu Agency quoted by Mi’raj islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

He regretted that two members of the African peacekeeping force (MISCA) were killed in the process.

“What we regret even more is the intervention of the French forces. The Sangaris wanted the Seleka out of Batangafo by force, which constitutes a violation of the Brazzaville cessation of hostilities agreement,” Dhaffane said.

“The Sangaris did not abide by the agreement,” he insisted. “The international forces are not here to wage war, but to bring peace.”

The warring anti-Balaka and Seleka militias signed an agreement last month in Brazzaville, the capital of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, pledging to end hostility and ensure the free movement of goods and people.

But the Sangaris command blamed the attack in Batanfago on the Seleka militiamen.

“The Seleka attacked a Sangaris reconnaissance mission at the entrance of Batangafo, which legitimately triggered robust response from the French troops,” it said in a statement.

It cited “heavy losses” in the Seleka ranks, but without giving exact figures.

But sources close to the French forces put the number of slain militiamen at nearly 50 with around 100 others injured.

France, the former colonizer, currently has 2,000 peacekeepers deployed in, while the African Union has deployed around 6,000 peacekeepers.

Land-locked CAR descended into anarchy last year when Seleka ousted then president Francois Bozize, a Christian who had come to power in a 2003 coup, and installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, as an interim president.

The country was plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between seleka fighters and Christian militiamen.

Anti-Muslim violence surged 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 Seleka militants blamed for attacking Christian homes, looting property and carrying out summary executions during their brief reign. (T/P09/E01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)

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