“Kilometre 5” (or Km-5) is normally a bustling business district in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. But since Christian militias started attacking the neighbourhood’s Muslim residents, Km-5 has become a lawless zone, with civilians only venturing outside when armed with machetes.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Christian self-defence militias, which are fighting against members of the former Seleka rebellion that took control of Bangui in March, attacked the capital by entering via several different neighbourhoods. This coordinated operation, in which former guards of ousted former president François Bozizé also participated, took the ex-Seleka rebels by surprise. In the Km-5 neighbourhood, they attacked a mosque and 58 Muslims lost their lives. In total, at least 130 people were killed in the capital on Thursday alone. Christian militias accuse Muslims of supporting the ex-Seleka rebels.
On Thursday, our Observers in Bangui expressed concern that this operation might lead to retaliatory attacks and a further escalation in the inter-religious violence. Their fears do not appear to be unfounded. It has emerged that in Km-5 and several other neighbourhoods, civilians have taken up arms and reports have emerged of revenge attacks on Christian communities.
The images published below were taken by a local journalist and FRANCE 24 Observer Hervé Cyriaque Serefio, who managed to report from districts where it’s frequently too dangerous for foreign journalists to go.