Anti-balaka thirst for revenge in Central African Republic

Borab is a district in Bangui, capital of Central African Republic. Women sell fruit and vegetables on the street. The men sit in bars and drink beer. Young men, armed with machetes and automatic weapons, loiter nearby.

Borab is the headquarters and stronghold of the anti-balaka [anti-Muslim] youth militia. It was also the constituency of former President Francois Bozize until he was toppled by the Seleka [Muslim] rebels in March 2013 and forced into exile. Many of his body guards and political allies live in Borab and for this reason it was here that the Seleka [Muslim] rebels unleashed their fury on the civilian population. There was much looting, women were raped and many people were shot and killed.

Borab was where resistance to Seleka began growing, said anti-balaka spokesman Emotion Gomez. His body is adorned with objects – bullets, a tin can, a lock and chain. He believes these charms or fetishes have some special power that will keep him safe from enemy bullets.

“Our name comes from anti-Balle AK meaning “against the bullets of the AK47,” he said, referring to the Kalashnikov assault rifle.

“Our movement has a long history, anti-balaka have traditionally hunted down bandits and arrested them. That was before Bozize came to power. But once Djotodia had taken over and the Seleka started shooting and ill-treating us, we decided to regroup and fight them.”

Gomez was referring to Michael Djotodia, the [Muslim] Seleka leader who toppled Bozize and was then ousted himself in January 2014.

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Explanatory phrases entered in brackets since Deutsche Welle is clearly trying to play this angle down.