Africa

Anti-Balaka militants kidnap CAR sports minister

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Gunmen believed to belong to the Christian anti-Balaka militant group have abducted the minister of youth, sports, arts and culture in the conflict-ridden Central African Republic (CAR).

Nicaise Danielle Sayo, the wife of the kidnapped sports minister, said she and her husband, Armel Mingatoloum Sayo, were on their way back home from church on Sunday morning, when their car was accosted in Galabadja neighborhood of the capital, Bangui.

She said the assailants took the minister out of his car, and sped off in an unmarked taxi, adding, “They instructed us to stop…. They pulled him from his vehicle to put him in their car to head to Boy-Rabe, their stronghold.”

UN rights investigators have voiced alarm over an increasing number of war crimes being committed in CAR, calling for a “truly international” tribunal to probe such crimes in the strife-torn country.

On January 21, Fatimata M’Baye and Philip Alston, two members of the International Commission of Inquiry on CAR, called for an international panel of judges to objectively probe and prosecute those who perpetrate such heinous crimes.

CAR descended into chaos and sectarian violence in 2013, after Christian anti-balaka militant group turned their guns on Muslim Seleka fighters to dominate the crisis-stricken country’s politics and vast mineral resources.

In an attempt to restore peace and stability to the former French colony, a transitional government headed by Catherine Samba Panza was formed at the end of August 2014, including members from different political parties as well as from Seleka and anti-balaka.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says nearly one million people have been displaced in CAR since the outbreak of the violence.

Rights groups have on occasions reported that Muslims in the war-torn country “are being butchered” at the hands of Christian militia forces.

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