Christian armed men have entered the Central African Republic’s second largest city of Berberati to ‘search homes of Muslims.’
Local sources say several hundred members of the anti-Balaka group have arrived in several phases in Berberati, located more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) southeast of the capital, Bangui.
Thomas Isaie, a local clergyman, said on Monday the armed men started to “search the homes of Muslims.”
“During the day, another wave arrived, armed, more threatening and more vindictive and they began systematic destruction.”
Reports say about 15 Muslims were killed during the searches and the armed men tried to take over mosques in the city.
More than 500 Muslim residents have taken shelter at the priest’s residence, which is being protected by a few Congolese soldiers from the African Union peacekeeping force.
The Central African Republic has been facing deadly unrest since December last year, when Christian militia launched coordinated attacks against the mostly Muslim Seleka group, which toppled the government in March 2013.
Christian militias have been attacking the whole Muslim population including women and children, forcing thousands of Muslims to flee the country.
France deployed 1,600 troops to the Central African Republic, a former French colony, in December 2013, after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution giving Paris and the African Union the go-ahead to send troops to the violence-stricken country.
The deployment of the French and African Union forces has done little to end the ongoing violence between ethnic communities in the country.