BANGUI, Central African Republic : A military ceremony in the Central African Republic ended in violence Wednesday after soldiers lynched a man to death who they suspected of being a former rebel, according to AFP journalists.
Minutes after the departure of officials from the ceremony in the capital Bangui, including interim president Catherine Samba Panza, the soldiers attacked a young man in civilian clothes, hitting, stabbing and throwing stones at him. His body was then dragged though the streets as African Union troops looked on.
Pictures showed a soldier stamping on the bloodied head of the man while another prepared to stab him in the side.
The lynching was carried out under the noses of soldiers from the African Union-led MISCA mission, which was providing security at the event.
Witnesses said the body was dismembered and burned before MISCA troops finally intervened to disperse the crowd with teargas and shots in the air.
Just moments before, Panza had told the crowd of around 4,000 troops and dignitaries gathered at the National School of Magistrates of her “pride in seeing so many elements of the Central African Republic Forces reunited”.
The ceremony was supposed to mark the reformation of troops dispersed since the coup in March 2013 that brought rebel Michel Djotodia to power. He was forced to resign on January 10 under pressure from the international community, amid mounting violence between rival Muslim and Christian militants.
Panza assured the troops that talks were underway with international partners to secure their wages, unpaid for five months.
The ceremony was attended by senior members of the transitional government and armed forces, as well as General Francisco Soriano, commander of French forces in the country under Operation Sangaris, and General Atanase Kararuza, deputy commander of MISCA.
No reaction could be immediately obtained from the government, MISCA or Sangaris forces.