Militia Attacked, Kidnapped And Committed Mass Rape Central African Republic – MSF

Militia fighters attacked, kidnapped and raped en masse a large group of women in an isolated area of Central African Republic last month, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.

The medical charity treated 10 survivors of the February 17 violence near Kiriwiri, a village in the country’s northwest. Fearing further attacks if they tried to reach a hospital, the women were unable to seek medical treatment until about two weeks later, it said.

Many other victims remained behind, fearing that, as rape victims, they would be stigmatised in their community.

“Some were totally in shock, others paralysed by fear or unable to talk about the incident. Some of the women had open wounds caused by blades,” said Soulemane Amoin, a midwife at the hospital in the town of Bossangoa where the women were treated.

“It was terrible to see. It broke my heart.”

Central African Republic descended into chaos after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted president Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a spate of killing by Christian anti-balaka militias.

Despite the deployment of a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission, rival armed groups still stalk much of the countryside. The UN Security Council approved an extra 900 peacekeepers in November to help to protect civilians.

However Gabon, which contributes around 550 soldiers to the mission, announced on Thursday it was planning to withdraw its contingent, citing what it said was a “progressive return of peace and stability”.

The rapes near Kiriwiri coincided with a surge in violence in Bossangoa and the surrounding areas.

In its statement, MSF said the women had left their village to fetch water and tend to their fields when the militiamen arrived. Some women fled, but others were grabbed and brought back to the militia’s base where they were repeatedly raped before being let go, it said.

MSF did not identify the group behind the assault.

“This attack is one of the consequences of the new wave of senseless violence that broke out at the end of 2016 and continues without let-up,” said Paul Brockmann, who heads MSF’s mission in Central African Republic.

The hospital at Bossangoa has treated 56 rape victims since September, up from 13 in the previous eight months, MSF said.

It has also treated around 300 victims of rape and sexual assault from around the country each month so far this year at its main hospital in the capital, Bangui.

-The Star

Militiamen rape 127 women in East Congo town

Armed men raped 127 women earlier this month during a raid on a town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s South Kivu province, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.

Some 60 militiamen assaulted the women during a May 1 attack on the town of Kikamba in the province of South Kivu’s Shabunda region, MSF said in a statement. It did not identify the armed group responsible for the attack.

Dozens of armed groups operate in Eastern Congo, where a 1998-2003 conflict killed millions of people, mostly from hunger and disease. Both state and rebel forces have been accused by rights groups of using rape as a weapon of war.

In November, Congolese Army General Jerome Kakwavu became the highest ranking official convicted of rape by a military tribunal in Congo while a rebel commander in northeastern Congo was convicted from 2003-2005.

-Reuters

Somali troops capture key port town from al-Shabab

BBC reports that Somali government troops backed by African Union forces have captured Barawe, a key stronghold of al-Shabab Islamists, according to the local officials.

The government now controls all the sea ports along the coast of Somalia, blocking off supply lines, and the AU says al-Shabab, who had held the town for six years, used it as a base to launch attacks on the capital.

Al-Shabab had begun withdrawing from the key port town on Friday, and have lost control of several towns in the past month. They however still control large swathes of territory in rural areas.