Central African Republic's Capital Paralyzed as Unrest Kills 42

  • Almost 50 people killed since unrest began on Saturday
  • Hundreds of detainess escape following mob attack on prison

At least 48 people died in clashes between residents of the capital of Central African Republic in an outbreak of violence that has brought the city to a standstill less than a month before elections.

The unrest began in Bangui after a Muslim man was found killed on Saturday, according to an e-mailed statement from the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres. The morgue has so far received 42 bodies, Crepin Lenga, a supervisor at the facility, said in an interview Monday.

Six others died when a mob marching toward the presidential palace was dispersed by security forces and peacekeeping troops, according to Gervais Lakosso, a spokesman for a coalition of civil society groups. Officials with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bangui couldn’t be reached by phone.

Buildings have been looted or destroyed, and shops and businesses remain closed. The central prison was attacked, enabling hundreds of inmates to escape, prison guard Henri Gotras said by phone.

Looters ransacked the offices of at least three non-governmental organizations, according to Amnesty International. “The deadly violence in the capital illustrates that Central African Republic remains in a very fragile state,” the London-based rights group said in an e-mailed statement.

Interim Prime Minister Mahamat Kamoun imposed a night-time curfew and urged residents to end the fighting, in an address on state radio late Sunday. A presidential vote to restore an elected government to the war-torn country is planned for next month.

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