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Jailbreak: More than 500 prisoners escape in Central African Republic

GettyImages-487280363BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS From Mashable

BANGUI, Central African Republic — The worst violence to hit Bangui, Central African Republic’s capital, in a year further deteriorated Monday as more than 500 inmates escaped from a prison and militia fighters looted the offices of international aid organizations, officials said. The death toll from several days of clashes reached 42 including a teenage boy who was decapitated.

The unrest, sparked by the death of a Muslim man whose body was left near a mosque, erupted as transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza was in New York at the U.N. General Assembly. Muslim militants then attacked a Christian neighborhood with weekend clashes leaving several dozen people dead.

Amnesty International, which has documented the human rights abuses since the conflict first erupted in early 2013 with the overthrow of the president of a decade, said the latest violence had shattered the peace in Central African Republic. Sectarian violence had ebbed in recent months with the arrival of a U.N. peacekeeping force and after tens of thousands of Muslims fled the country for their lives, leaving behind a clear Christian majority in Bangui.

“The deadly violence in the capital illustrates that CAR remains in a very fragile state and that immediate action must be taken to enhance the capacity of U.N. peacekeepers to detect and respond effectively to such incidents before escalation of attacks on civilians,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International regional director for West and Central Africa.

The jailbreak at Ngaragba took place late Monday, according to people who saw the men fleeing and spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. The escape also was confirmed by head clerk Thierry Ngoalessio at Bangui’s court.

There was a similar, smaller jailbreak at the prison in July and a larger riot in which prisoners temporarily took control in November 2014.

Earlier in the day, a group of protesters met in downtown Bangui in an effort to march on the presidential palace. At least six people died when the group was fired upon and protesters blamed peacekeepers for shooting into the crowd to disperse the demonstration, said Christophe Gazam-Betty, a former communications minister.

However, the U.N. mission known as MINUSCA denied that its peacekeepers were to blame in this heavily-armed city.

“MINUSCA protected the presidency but did not kill protesters,” said Myriam Dessables, a spokeswoman for the mission, told The Associated Press by telephone.

The violence over the past week comes as the transitional government prepares to hold elections in October 18. Many believe that such a vote is nearly impossible given the lack of funds and destruction of voting records. Pope Francis is also due to visit in late November as part of his trip to Africa.

Additional reporting by Mashable.

IMAGES: Gettyimages-487280363 People ride a motorbike in front of the jail ” Maison Centrale de Ngaragba” in Bangui on April 22, 2014.IMAGE: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP
Demonstrators gather in Bangui demand the resignation of interim president Catherine Samba Panza in Central African Republic on September 28, 2015.

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