Kidnappings in CAR Possibly Linked to Recent Arrest of Vigilante LeaderJanuary 20, 2015 in Central Africa Republic
Armed men kidnapped a female United Nations employee in the capital city on Tuesday, just one day after two aid workers were seized.
According to a source within the UN’s MINUSCA force in the Central African Republic (CAR), gunmen on Tuesday seized a female UN employee from a van that was taking UN staffers to work in Bangui. A statement released by the UN MINUSCA force has since confirmed the kidnapping, stating “unidentified armed men kidnapped on Tuesday a woman who works for MINUSCA after having stopped the vehicle in which she was travelling. A similar kidnap attempt failed just a bit earlier.” Tuesday’s kidnapping reportedly involves gunmen who appear to be linked to the mainly Christian anti-balaka militia. The abduction comes a day after a French charity worker and a man were seized in an area of the capital city that is controlled by anti-balaka fighters. Both kidnappings appear to be linked to the recent arrest of a vigilante leader.
On Monday, two people, including a 67-year-old French woman working for a Catholic medical charity, were kidnapped in the CAR. It is believed that the second hostage is a local man connected with the charity.
According to on the ground sources, a vehicle carrying the two was stopped by armed men in the capital city Bangui, with the militants later driving off with the hostages. According to the driver of the vehicle, Brother Elkana Ndawatcha, “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…They let me go after they robbed me of my mobile telephone, my bank documents and my money,” adding “one of them took my place at the wheel and took my colleagues deeper into Boy-Rabe district,” referring to one of the militia’s strongholds in the northeastern region of Bangui. Sources have revealed that the kidnappers, who are from the mainly Christian anti-balaka militia, were angry over the recent arrest of one of their leaders.
The CAR national secretary of Catholic Charity Caritas, Abby Elysee Guendjiande, confirmed the kidnapping, stating “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 has called for the unidentified woman to be freed immediately. The French embassy in Bangui is in contact with the city’s archbishop, who has been holding talks with the kidnappers.
Both kidnappings come just days after the CAR’s senior prosecutor announced that UN peacekeepers had arrested a senior leader, Rodrigue Nagibona, also known as General Andjilo, of the anti-balaka militia.
Prosecutors in the CAR disclosed Sunday that a power vigilante leader, accused of masterminding a massacre of some 300 minority Muslims in December 2013, has been arrested. According to prosecutors, UN Peacekeepers arrested General Andjilo, who had been on the run for several months, on Saturday in the north-western region of the country. A judicial source disclosed Sunday that a Cameroonian contingent of the UN force, MINUSCA, arrested Andjilo in the town of Bouca after a fire fight with “his men.” Maurice Dibert-Dollet, Bangui’s general prosecutor, confirmed the arrest, stating, “General Andjilo is wanted for multiple alleged crimes including killings, rebellion, illegal possession of weapons of war, criminal association, rape and pillage.” General Andjilo is associated with an attack on a MINUSCA convoy in October 2014 that left one Pakistani soldier dead.