French troops escort CAR Muslims from Bangui

An anti-Balaka (i.e. Christian) militiaman poses for a photograph next to a checkpoint on a dirt road near the town of Yaloke, Central African Republic, April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

The relocation of the first batch of Muslims from their homes in the PK 12 district of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, to Bambari, 300 km to the northwest, was concluded on Friday under French military protection.

“Nearly 3,500 Muslims, including women and children, were living in PK 12 in a space of just 400 square meters,” local mosque imam Ahmat Oumar, who was among those who headed to Bambari, told Anadolu Agency.

“Each day, we mourn our dead,” he said. “We will be much better off here [in Bambari].”

“We are victims of the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. As evidence, no sign of Islam is now noticeable all the way from PK 12 to Bambari. All the mosques were destroyed and Muslim property stolen,” he added.

The government has been under pressure to facilitate the evacuation of Bangui’s Muslim community – especially those in PK 12 on Bangui’s northern outskirts to Bambari in the city center – due to fears of fresh anti-Muslim violence by Christian militiamen.
The country descended into anarchy one year ago when Seleka rebels ousted Francois Bozize, a Christian who had come to power in a 2003 coup. The rebels later installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, as interim president.

Since then, the country has been plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between Christian anti-balaka militias and Muslim former Seleka fighters.