Bangui - Fighting in the capital of strife-torn Central African Republic has killed at least 30 people over the past three days, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday.
Thirty bodies have been collected from the streets of Bangui, the head of the ICRC delegation Georgios Georgantas said, adding that he was very concerned by the “unprecedented level of violence” that has also left at least 60 people wounded.
Georgantas urged the authorities and about 7 000 French and African troops deployed to help end months of inter-religious violence to “take up their responsibilities”.
He also called on civilians “to respect the emblem of the Red Cross and its personnel while they do their jobs”.
“When we go through roadblocks to evacuate the wounded, each trip calls for long and difficult negotiations to move on. This endangers the lives of the wounded and causes a lot of stress to our personnel,” he added.
The violence in the poor, landlocked nation erupted when former rebels of the mainly Muslim Seleka coalition that seized power in March last year targeted civilians, which prompted fighters from the Christian majority to form community self-defence groups known as “anti-balaka” (anti-machete).
Both sides are accused by the United Nations, rights movements and relief organisations of atrocities such as murder, rape and looting in a spiral of violence, affecting towns in the interior of the country as well as the capital.
The ICRC casualty toll is believed to be lower than the actual figure, because many families bury their own dead and they also avoid taking wounded relatives to health centres because of the high level of insecurity in several districts.
The country's new interim president, Catherine Samba Panza, has maintained an overnight curfew that begins at 6.00pm (17.00 GMT) and was imposed by her predecessor Michel Djotodia, whom the Seleka brought to power. He stepped down on January 10 under immense pressure from his regional peers for failing to halt the bloodshed.
The curfew means that civilians wounded at the end of the day or during night attacks must wait until morning to receive medical attention. Volunteers in the Central African Red Cross set to work at dawn to help victims and collect bodies reported to them by families or local residents. - AFP