Militia chief killed in C. Africa clashes
A militia leader in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) has been killed in clashes with rival groups in the country's gold-rich heart, sources said Tuesday.
The fighting erupted on Sunday in the town of Ndassima, pitching two militias, the FPRC and UPC, against a rival called the RDR, which is in alliance with a splinter group of the FPRC.
The RDR's leader, Gaetan Boade, was killed in the clashes, a police source in Bambari, reached by phone, told AFP.
The account was confirmed separately by a UN official and by Azor Khalit, who heads the FPRC splinter group.
Several sources said there had been additional deaths in Ndassima, although the toll remained sketchy.
Ndassima lies at a crossroads of a region where militias are battling for control of mines, lucrative road blocks and cattle rustling. The town itself is surrounded by gold mines.
One of the poorest countries in the world, the Central African Republic has been riven by conflict between nominally Muslim and Christian militias, which started after the 2013 overthrow of leader Francois Bozize.
Outside of the capital Bangui, most of the rest of the country is in the hands of militia groups, who are fighting over resources in shifting configurations of alliances.
The FPRC -- the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC) -- has been allied with the UPC (Union for Peace in Central Africa) since several armed groups signed a ceasefire in Ippy in October.
Boade, from the town of Bambari, was a former head of an armed group fighting Muslim militia, then joined a militia coalition led by the FPRC and then split with it in September to set up his own organisation, the RDR.
The latest clashes come as the beleaguered state is trying to reassert control in the north of the country.
Colonel Augustin Tombou was formally installed on Saturday as prefect, the highest representative of the state, in the town of Kaga-Bandoro.
But sources reported a surge of violence, including mortar rounds fired against UN peacekeepers, gunfire targeting a camp for displaced people and a grenade that was thrown during Tombou's induction ceremony.
Tombou's residence was "partially destroyed" and the prefecture itself was burned down, Jean-Serge Bokassa, minister of territorial decentralisation and administration, told AFP by phone on Monday.