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After clashes, Central African cardinal urges more efforts toward peace


  • A U.N. peacekeeping soldier guards women fleeing Zike, Central African Republic, as they arrive April 26 in the village of Bambara. (CNS photo/Baz Ratner, Reuters)
  • People wait in line for food distribution outside a church April 27 in Makunzi Wali, Central African Republic. (CNS photo/Baz Ratner, Reuters)
  • Members of the of the anti-Balaka militia pose with their weapons April 28 in the in Bocaranga, Central African Republic. (CNS photo/Baz Ratner, Reuters)
  • Muslim men pray inside a mosque April 27 in Koui, Central African Republic. (CNS photo/Baz Ratner, Reuters)

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OXFORD, England (CNS) -- A cardinal in Central African Republic called on international peacekeepers to act more effectively, after he helped end an anti-Muslim flare-up in the southeastern city of Bangassou.

"In protecting civilians, this peacekeeping mission has only half fulfilled its role -- I think its manner of acting has to be corrected," said Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga, president of the bishops' conference in the Central African Republic.

"Although it's good United Nations forces secured the town, refugees from its mosque were left to their own devices for three days. You can't ask the population to take refuge in a particular place, and then just leave it to its sad fate."

The cardinal, 50, spoke after returning May 18 from four days in Bangassou, where at least 100 people died when heavily armed rebels attacked the town's Muslim quarter May 13. Six U.N. peacekeepers were among the dead.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission urged an immediate halt to the violence, so injured people could receive medical treatment, but also asked targeted communities not to retaliate.

"The persistence of insecurity shows us local realities are not being taken seriously," the commission said in a statement, published May 18 in the capital, Bangui.

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