Children beheaded in Central African Republic
More than half of the residents of CAR’s capital have sought housing at emergency shelters because of continued violence between rebel militias. Children have also been caught in the crossfires. Photo by Pascal Mounier/EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection
At least two children have been beheaded in Bangui, Central African Republic, the BBC reports. Since Dec. 5, about 16 children have been killed and 60 injured. The children were reportedly the target of a revenge attack.
“We are witnessing unprecedented levels of violence against children,” UNICEF representative Souleyman Diabata said in a UNICEF statement released Monday. “More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks.”
In November, UNICEF calculated as many as 6,000 child soliders were fighting in CAR for warring factions, more than double their previous estimate.
The violence continues, despite the presence of additional French and African troopsthe UN authorized to stop sectarian killings.
In March, ex-Muslim rebel leader Michel Djotodia and his followers — a coalition of rebel groups called Seleka — overthrew President Francois Bozize. But Djotodia has been unable to control renegade fighters, most of whom are Muslim. The Islamist rebels have been attacking perceived Christian supporters of the ousted president. Christian self-defense militias are springing up and launching retaliatory attacks, sometimes against Muslim civilians.
In the past three weeks, UNICEF reported that 370,000 people — that’s half of Bangui’s population — have been displaced. At least 1,000 were killed in December alone.