CAR militiamen kidnap French charity worker in Bangui

TWO people, including a 67-year-old French woman working for a Catholic medical charity, have been kidnapped in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Reports said their vehicle was stopped by armed men in the capital, Bangui, and they were driven off.

The other person seized was said to be a local man connected with the charity.

The driver of the vehicle, who was not taken, said the kidnappers were from a mainly Christian militia angry at the recent arrest of one of their leaders.

Over the weekend, CAR’s senior prosecutor said that UN peacekeepers had arrested a senior leader of the so-called anti-balaka militia, Rodrigue Nagibona, known as General Andjilo.

He was wanted for alleged murder and rape in connection with attacks on minority Muslims in December 2013 as well as on charges linked with rebellion and looting. “The three of us were coming from Damara [north of Bangui]… when we were stopped by a group of four anti-balaka [militiamen] armed with Kalashnikovs in the middle of the city,” Brother Elkana Ndawatcha, who was driving the vehicle, told the AFP news agency.”They let me go after they robbed me of my mobile telephone, my bank documents and my money.

“One of them took my place at the wheel and took my colleagues deeper into Boy-Rabe district,” he said, referring to one of the militia’s strongholds in north-east Bangui.

The CAR national secretary of Catholic charity Caritas, Abby Elysee Guendjiande, told Reuters news agency: “When we called… [the French woman’s] telephone later the kidnappers picked up and said: ‘Release our General Andjilo and we will liberate the hostages.'”

The French government has condemned the kidnapping and called for the unidentified woman to be freed immediately.

It said its embassy in Bangui was in contact with the city’s archbishop, who had been holding talks with the kidnappers.

Mostly Muslim Seleka fighters seized control of CAR in March 2013, ousting President Francois Bozize.

But their leader was forced to resign as president a year ago after failing to curb the violence in which thousands died and about one million people were displaced.

Both sides have been accused of committing atrocities.

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