Reports of cannibalism and other horrific acts of violence surfaced in the Central African Republic on Saturday night as Christian militias went on the rampage following the resignation of the country’s Muslim president.
Western-backed peacekeepers, including French and African Union troops, were attempting to restore order after Christian mobs destroyed mosques and attacked Muslim neighbourhoods in the capital, Bangui.
The mobs sensed the upper hand after regional mediators brought about the resignation on Friday of President Michel Djotodia, who last night was bound for exile in the West African state of Benin.
Sectarian violence has already claimed more than 1,000 lives in the CAR in past month, and yesterday, eyewitnesses spoke of how a machete-wielding gang ate parts of the body of a Muslim man after attacking him on Tuesday.
The reports have echoes of the grisly stories about the country’s late dictator, Jean Bedel Bokassa, who was alleged to have practised cannibalism during his rule between 1966 and 1979.
Charges of cannabalism against him were later dropped, despite widespread rumours that he had kept human limbs in fridges and even served parts of them to visiting French dignitaries.
Last night’s AFP reports were corroborated by an aid worker who spoke to The Sunday Telegraph, who said: “They were taking machetes to people and burning the bodies and eating them.”
The violence was said to have been carried out in retalition for rampages carried out by Mr Djotodia’s Seleka militias, who helped him sieze power in the CAR last March.