Mass grave found in C. African Republic capital

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Associated Press

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 7:03 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 7:07 AM

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Authorities have unearthed a mass grave with at least a dozen bodies inside a military camp that was used by the Muslim rebels who fell from power last month, officials said Thursday.

At least six bodies were seen being removed from underneath a concrete slab at the base once used by Seleka fighters. The corpses were badly decomposed and it was not immediately possible to identify the victims, said Antoine Mbao-Bogo, president of the local Red Cross.

Mahamat Aboubacar, one of the Seleka colonels who remained in the area, denied any involvement and declined to comment further.

The Muslim rebels known as Seleka were blamed for scores of atrocities during their 10-month rule, including killing suspected opponents. Anger over Seleka's abuses led to retaliation by an armed Christian militia known as the anti-Balaka, which staged an attempted coup in early December.

That attack sparked several days of sectarian fighting that left more than 1,000 people dead. Seleka fighters went door-to-door in Christian neighborhoods and even stormed hospitals in order to abduct suspected enemies.

Seleka's leader Michel Djotodia stepped down as president in January amid mounting international pressure as his government failed to stem the violence. Christian militiamen soon began retaliating against ordinary Muslim civilians whom they accused of having collaborated with the Seleka government.

Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled the country amid a wave of vicious crowd killings in the streets, where mobs of angry people have stomped, stabbed and beaten to death anyone they suspected of backing Seleka. On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the violence had amounted to "ethnic-religious cleansing."

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Associated Press journalist Jerome Delay contributed to this report from Bangui.

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