In March 2013, the Seleka, a coalition of predominantly Muslim-armed groups from the northeast, marched on the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui and seized power.
They committed mass atrocities against the population, and to the largely Christian population in the southwest, Muslims began to be associated with violence. They took up arms to form a Christian self-defense militia called the anti-balaka, and carried out revenge killings.
By the end of 2013, the Central African Republic had descended into civil war. Under pressure from the international community, the Seleka were forced to give up power and retreated towards the northeast, where they regrouped.
A United Nations peacekeeping mission and a French military operation were able to stem the fighting, but despite their presence, the transitional government has not been able to regain control of the country outside Bangui.
With the anti-balaka controlling the southwest, and the Seleka controlling the northeast, the Central African Republic is de facto partitioned along ethno-religious lines. For those who find themselves on the wrong side of the divide, life has become hell.
VICE News travels to Carnot, a mining town at the heart of the Central African Republic’s diamond region controlled by the anti-balaka, where 500 Muslims are hiding in a church to stay alive. On the other side of the country in Bambari, ex-Seleka rebels are terrorizing the Christian population, with thousands forced to seek shelter in a cotton factory following renewed fighting.
Watch “Blood Diamonds and Religious War: Diamonds and Division” – http://bit.ly/1Yy8U5f
Read “Celebrations and Tight Security as Pope Francis Lands in a Conflict Zone” – http://bit.ly/1lUz2ck
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