Central African police have resumed patrolling the PK5 district of Bangui, twenty months after being chased from the area held until late December by armed groups, an AFP journalist said on Tuesday.
Elements of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) have been crisscrossing the shopping streets of the PK5 for the past week, Oumar Senoussi, chairman of the crisis committee for this district, told AFP. They are accompanied by elements of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (Minusca), a peacekeeping operation launched in 2014 in this country where 70% of the territory is controlled by armed groups.
The PK5 has been in the grip of sporadic violence since 2014. It is in this shopping district that many Muslims from Bangui had taken refuge after the clashes between Seleka rebels and anti-balaka groups, which had raged in the capital after the fall of President François Bozizé in 2013.
Since then, the alleys of the PK5 have been held by a myriad of self-proclaimed vigilante groups. The Central African security forces had been completely expelled there in April 2018, after the launching of an operation to dismantle these groups which had ended in dismal failure.
Exasperated by the racket put in place by these groups, the traders finally took up arms on December 26. These clashes, which left more than 30 dead, led to the escape of these groups.
« I lost 2.5 million CFA francs (more than 3,800 euros) last month so I am very happy to see the ISPs here, » said Abdel Akim, a representative of traders affected by the recent violence. « But it is not enough, they must multiply the patrols if we want peace, » he adds.
« We work day and night, with standards and rules that have been set with the residents of PK5, » says Director General of Police Operations, Mr. Andjia.
The Central African Republic has been ravaged by civil war since a coalition of rebel groups overthrew President Bozizé in 2013. The violence has forced nearly a quarter of the country’s 4.7 million people to flee their homes.
Despite the significant drop in violence since the signing of a peace agreement on February 6 between the Bangui government and 14 armed groups, the country is still shaken by regular fighting between rebel militias.