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In the Central African Republic, human rights groups and the United Nations estimate more than 2,000 people have been killed in sectarian violence that began, analysts say, when a Muslim faction took control of the majority-Christian country.
Speaking through the Christian group Open Doors USA, a pastor who identifies himself as Noel believes the central African nation is seeing the early signs of genocide.
“In 20 years of my service to God, I have never seen such trials as these. Since the (Muslim) Seleka (faction] came to the country, even the Muslims with whom we have always lived in peace have turned against us. They are now aggressive toward us,” Noel said.
“These rebels are raping our daughters and murdering our people. We know of cases where people have been locked in their homes and burned alive. Everyone trying to escape was shot dead.”
Muslims make up about 15 percent of the country’s population and are generally concentrated in the north.
International Christian Concern Africa specialist William Stark says the conflict “seems to be continually deteriorating into religiously motivated civil war.”
Journalists, aid organizations and military analysts agree.
In March 2013, a coalition of Muslim groups formed the Seleka group, which took control of the country through military force.
Military intelligence think tank Blogs of War, a group that reports from the world’s war zones, tweeted: “Burnt bodies dumped in Central African Republic’s capital: Red Cross.”
The violence is taking a toll on the nation’s children, with Brazilian journalist Luiz Fernando Godhino tweeting that young people are being “forced to commit atrocities.”
UNICEF confirmed the “horrific brutalities” against children.
Jamaican journalist Zavier Smith reported: “Brutality against children in Central African Republic reaches unprecedented levels.”
The violence has been rampant since the Muslim Seleka alliance-led coup removed President Francois Bozize from office, sources said.
The Seleka alliance-installed president, Michel Djotodia, resigned last week, and newly elected president Catherine Samba-Panza was sworn in as the country’s first woman president.
The new president has called for all sides to lay down their weapons.
Stark said the attacks on Christians ratcheted up immediately when the Seleka party took over.
“Many Christians started to fear for their security and began moving in to refugee camps,” he said.
The fighting – some Christians have started fighting back – has left an estimated 350,000 homeless, sources said.
“Unfortunately, some Christians have decided to take matters into their own hands and have started perpetrating reprisal attacks on the Muslim community. These groups are now committing horrible acts of violence against Muslims regardless of whether or not they supported the Seleka movement,” Stark said.