Rebels attack C. African Republic villages; 8 dead

Associated Press

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Suspected foreign fighters backing a rebel movement now in control of Central African Republic's government invaded a remote north-central village and killed six people, residents said.

The assault on the town of Bouca on Friday came just days after other armed fighters took a dozen civilians hostage in another village in the same area, Yaloke. Two people were killed in the violence there.

Central African Republic has long been a volatile country plagued by coups and rebellions, and the latest turmoil erupted in December when several rebel groups joined together to oust the longtime president. Since December, when they succeeded in overthrowing the government, the rebels have been accused of killing civilians and of rampant looting.

Last week the United Nations envoy to the country expressed alarm about the deteriorating situation.

"An already challenging human rights environment, marked by systemic violation of rights even by law enforcement officers, has collapsed into a state of anarchy and total disregard for international law, as elements of Seleka turned their vengeance against the population," Margaret Vogt told the United Nations Security Council.

While the abuses in the capital of Bangui have been well documented, reports of attacks on civilians in the outlying provinces long outside the control of the national government have sometimes only trickled in days later.

In Bouca, residents who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals, say four vehicles full of armed gunmen entered the village on Friday, where they shot dead six people. The town is located 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of the capital of Bangui.

Witnesses said the men did not speak Sango, the local language of Central African Republic. For some time, there have been allegations they have been aided by Sudanese and Chadian fighters.

Gunmen from Sudan's Darfur region known as Janjaweed were seen in the company of Seleka fighters in northern Central African Republic after the government overthrow. An Associated Press reporter saw them traveling in vehicles alongside Seleka rebels operating in the area.

Also Friday, rebels traveled into the countryside to rob people who had fled Batangafo, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) further north of the violence in Bouca. The fighters there stole 26 cattle and also assaulted a herder, residents said. In other communities in the region, rebels also have gone door-to-door seeking money and other valuable objects including motorcycles.

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Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.

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