Yakomas hide as persecution continues in CAR

Bangui- Central African Republic (PANA) -- Three weeks after former ruler Andre Kolingba's failed coup, the Central African Republic's members of the Yakoma ethnic group are still hiding to escape reprisals directed against them.
The reprisals against the Yakomas are being carried out by elements of the presidential guard, according to witnesses contacted in Bangui.
The witnesses said the Yakomas, Kolingba's ethnic group, have suffered a lot since the abortive putsch which was crashed by troops loyal to President Ange-Felix Patasse.
Patasse's troops were supported by a Libyan contingent and DR Congo rebels of Jean Pierre Bemba to subdue the rebels.
Since then, the CAR Human Rights League and the press have reported of several summary executions principally against the Yakoma community, although they could not establish the exact toll, carried out by the ruthless guards.
The result of these killings is that the capital city of Bangui has been missing of its Yakomas.
The result is that several sectors, especially in public administration and education, which they dominated, have been paralysed.
The situation is the same in the sports sector, the witnesses said.
According to a private daily paper, "Le Citoyen," in its Friday issue, the Yakoma hunt is about to compromise the participation of the country in the sports contests such as the African basketball Cup of Nations in Morocco in August, and the CEMAC football tornament to be held in December in Cameroon.
For example, the sports community lost MP Theophile Touba, co-ordinator of the schools and university sports, who was killed together with his nephew.
His colleague Jacob Gbeti, chairman of the country's National Olympic and Sports Committee, has been in hiding, fearing for his life.
Witnesses said that the feared presidential guards have been cordoning off neighbourhoods to conduct searches and commit summary executions of suspected supporters of Kolingba.
Last Friday, the guards were seen in the neighbourhoods of Sica 1, Sica 2 and in Castors systematically searching houses for weapons and rebels from 1500 to 1900 GMT.
Three days ago it was the turn of a neighbourhood known as 92 Logements, in Bangui south, to welcome the deadly searchers.
According to reports, a woman selling palm wine was killed in cold blood on Thursday in the neighbourhood of Combattant (north-east) by two drunken presidential guards.
One of the killers, however, was lynched by an outraged mob and his house totally ransacked afterwards.

24 june 2001 12:31:00

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