Hundreds seek to flee C. African Republic on emergency flights
BANGUI (REUTERS) - Hundreds of people tried to flee inter-religious violence in Central African Republic on Saturday aboard emergency flights to neighbouring Chad, while nearby countries appealed for help to rescue their citizens from the mounting humanitarian crisis.
Tit-for-tat violence between Muslim Seleka rebels, who seized power in March, and Christian self-defence militias have killed more than 1,000 people this month in the riverside capital Bangui and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
Fighting in the former French colony has surged in recent weeks despite the presence of 1,600 French peacekeepers and nearly 4,000 African Union troops deployed under a UN mandate to protect civilians. Bangui was calm on Saturday.
The 'anti-balaka' militia have targeted Muslims they say have supported Seleka during months of looting and killing since March. With many Seleka gunmen coming from Chad, its citizens in particular have been singled out, prompting their government to charter flights this week to bring them home.