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Satellite Imagery Reveals Devastation Wrought by Islamist Insurgency

ICC Note: The Séléka Islamist insurgency has targeted Christians in a campaign of religious cleansing.  Satellite imagery has revealed areas where hundreds of homes and entire villages have been burned, and other areas where tens of thousands of the displaced have established makeshift camps while   awaiting aid. 

11/9/2013 Central African Republic (News Afrique) - Expert analysis of new satellite imagery, obtained by Amnesty International (AI) from the Central African Republic (CAR), reveals the shocking aftermath of recent human rights abuses amid spiralling violence by armed groups and security forces, the global human rights body said Friday.

The images – some taken since the beginning of November – include evidence of 485 homes being torched in Bouca as well as internally-displaced persons (IDPs) near the massing near the town of Bossangoa as people flee the ongoing violence, the body said in a news dispatch.

“These new images offer a glimpse of physical scarring to homes and civic life visible from space, but the true scale of the human impact of the crisis cannot be captured by satellite,” said Aster van Kregten, Deputy Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“The national authorities and international community must act, as a matter of utmost urgency, to rein in the armed groups responsible for the widespread human rights abuses – which may amount to crimes against humanity – that have seized Central African Republic.”

On 9 September, 2013, armed civilians, known locally as Anti Balaka, attacked a Muslim neighbourhood in the town of Bouca, 98 km east of Bossangoa. They killed at least three people and set fire to houses belonging to Muslims.

On the same day, Seleka – the coalition of armed groups which seized power in March after launching an offensive against former President Francois Bozizé last December – carried out reprisal attacks on Christians.

They killed at least 10 people and burnt houses belonging to Christians. Later that day, a Christian humanitarian worker, employed by the government, was accused of involvement in the attacks and summarily executed by a Seleka commander.

A comparison of satellite images of Bouca, taken on 27 April, 2012, and 2 November, 2013, reveals significant fire damage in central and eastern parts of the town, affecting approximately 485 houses, leaving a large area severely damaged.

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