61 people in Central African Republic died over the weekend in clashes orchestrated by fighters believed to be loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize.
The fighting occurred in the west of the country, a region that in recent months has been the center of multiple massacres allegedly carried out by the Seleka coalition of fighters who toppled Bozize in March.
The clashes also left tens of thousands displaced , Guy Simplice Kodegue, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.
“The international community should keep a watchful eye on what is happening in this country, as we have just made a policy shift to pave the way for elections,” he said.
He said about 30 people had been killed in Bossangoa, most of them civilians. Kodegue, the presidential spokesman, accused the assailants of targeting Muslim civilians, though Rigobert said the casualties may have included Christians as well.
The clashes in Bossangoa prompted about 30,000 residents – around 80 percent of the town’s population – to flee into the forest, said Amy Martin, head of the United Nations humanitarian mission in Central African Republic.
She said the clashes also coincided with violence in two other locations in the west. Fighting in the nearby town of Bouca on Monday morning prompted residents to flee, she said. It was not clear what sparked violence in that town. The northwest town of Paoua, meanwhile, had received thousands of people fleeing clashes between self-defense groups and Seleka in surrounding areas. Around 3,000 displaced people had been registered in Paoua, according to Martin.
Seleka leader Michel Djotodia was sworn in as president last month and vowed to return the country to democracy by organizing elections within 18 months.