At least 20 Muslim worshippers have been killed in a vicious attack by Christian militiamen inside a mosque in the Central African Republic.
The incident took place at the Djimbi Mosque in the city of Kembe when anti-balaka militants stormed the mosque, killing at least 20 worshippers.
The militiamen surrounded the mosque at the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to the president of the council of elders of Kembe, Abdurrahman Bornou.
During the attack, the imam and his deputy were executed, Bornou said.
Ousman Mahamat, a Muslim community leader, said he was outraged at the behaviour of some of his countrymen who promote inter-communal hatred.
He said: “We have to double our vigilance. We have killed each other. And in this war there is neither a victor nor vanquished.
“What has just happened in Djimbi is devastating.”
Local authorities have ordered three days of mourning in the town.
Since 2013, thousands of Muslims have been killed in the sectarian conflict in the CAR with tens of thousands fleeing their homes to seek refuge in the neighbouring countries of Cameroon and Chad.
In a 2015 report, Amnesty International estimated that more than 5,000 people, mostly civilian Muslims, have died in sectarian violence in the CAR despite the presence of international peacekeeping forces.
The country’s UN peacekeeping mission, the “Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission” strongly condemned the violence.
A MINUSCA statement said: ”The violence resulted in the death of several members of the Muslim community. MINUSCA and the government of the Central African Republic will dispatch a joint mission to Kembe in the coming hours to take stock of the situation on the ground.
”MINUSCA deplores the wave of violence which has resulted in several casualties, including peacekeepers. These acts of violence have contributed to the increase in the number of displaced persons and paralysed humanitarian work.”