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Disturbing the Peace in this CAR Town

Bangassou is a quiet little town in the southeastern Central African Republic (CAR) that was relatively spared by a civil war that erupted in 2013 and mutated into bloodletting along religious and ethnic lines. But its years of comparative peace ended abruptly in May 2017, when so-called anti-balaka militiamen, drawn mainly from Christian communities, roared into town. They slaughtered at least 72 Muslim civilians and 12 UN peacekeepers and besieged nearly 2,000 other Muslims who fled to the local cathedral for safety, according to the UN. The militia accused their civilian targets of collaborating with the Seleka — an alliance of rebels dominated by Muslims who in 2013 toppled the regime of President Francois Bozize. Their coup led to an unprecedented spiral of violence. Justice finally caught up with the ringleaders behind Bangassou’s bloodbath.