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C.Africa leader denounces attacks against Muslim 'sisters'


The Central African Republic's interim president on Saturday denounced atrocities being carried out against "Muslim sisters" across the country due to the brutal sectarian violence, in a speech to mark International Women's Day.

"It is deeply sad that on this special day our Muslim sisters cannot be with us, simply because they were attacked yesterday and they fear for their safety," said Catherine Samba Panza, the first woman ever to lead Central African Republic.

Her speech, at the palace of the National Assembly, covered "the role of women in the Central African search for peace".

Samba Panza added: "We cannot continue to promote intolerance, xenophobia and vile acts against our Muslim brothers and sisters who have always lived in perfect harmony with us.

"Images of those brothers and sisters, forced to live in certain places like prisoners, or to flee our country in their thousands because some people do not accept them and make their lives impossible, are intolerable and do us dishonour."

Security in the capital Bangui is "gradually and significantly deteriorating", said Panza, blaming "agitators" for exploiting the country's youth.

Her comments came after four Muslims were killed and their bodies savagely mutilated in two separate attacks in Bangui on Friday, according to a source in the security services.

In the attacks, the body of one Muslim was chopped up by machete-wielding assailants in the Malimaka district of Bangui.

"Certain parts of his body, including his hands, were paraded around the neighbourhood by local youths," said the security source.

Another three Muslims were attacked by armed fighters in the Combattant district on their way to Bangui's M'poko airport Friday.

They were shot after their car was rammed by fighters and their bodies were left mutilated, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The Central African Republic has been torn apart by bloody sectarian clashes since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted president Francois Bozize in March 2013 and replaced him with their leader Michel Djotodia, who was himself forced out last month.

Violence has continued unabated since then, as mostly Christian anti-balaka vigilantes have taken their revenge.