BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Amid a wave of violence hitting her country, transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza rushed back to Central African Republic from the U.N. General Assembly in New York, calling on her countrymen to show restraint and for foreign peacekeepers to take a greater role.
Militia fighters looted the offices of international aid organizations overnight.
Clashes since the weekend have killed at least 42 people. The situation deteriorated Monday when more than 500 prisoners escaped from a jail.
“The president of the transition left New York for Bangui on Monday afternoon, due to the situation in the country,” said Selemane Adjar, presidential communications director. The head of the U.N. mission to the country, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, will join her, he said.
The fresh violence was sparked by the death of a Muslim man whose body was left near a mosque on Saturday. Muslim militants then attacked a Christian neighborhood with weekend clashes leaving several dozen people dead.
In a government communique distributed Tuesday, Samba-Panza condemned the escalation of sectarian violence and said she will not be intimidated by it. She called on international forces in the country to protect civilians and help track down instigators of the violence.
The people behind the violence are being identified and tracked, Minister of Public Safety Dominique Said Paguindji said on the radio. The government called on all police officers, gendarmerie and military to go back to their barracks.
Sectarian violence erupted in Central African Republic in 2013 with the overthrow of the president of a decade. It has ebbed in recent months with the arrival of a U.N. peacekeeping force and after tens of thousands of Muslims fled the country for their lives.