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Central African Republic Inks Peace Pact With Armed Groups to End Civil and Religious Conflict

The Central African Republic (CAR) and majority of the armed groups within the region signed a peace pact that immediately enacted a ceasefire to a civil unrest that has claimed the lives of thousands of people.

Central African Republic
A boy walks in a camp sheltering internally displaced people (IDPs) next to the M'Poko international airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, on Feb. 13, 2016. |

According to Reuters, Rome-based Catholic peace group San't Egidio initiated the peace deal and mediated between the republic and the 13 of the 14 armed groups in the region. The pact aims to end all ethnic and religious conflict that has plagued CAR since 2013.

Clashes between religious groups erupted four years ago when Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the government, which prompted the Anti-Balaka Christian militia to retaliate

The Catholic peace group brokered the negotiations, which also included both parties' recognition of the results of last year's presidential elections. The Vatican and Italy supported Sain't Egidio in the realization of the pact.

While some leaders lauded the peace group's achievement to ink the deal between the rebel groups and CAR, many cast doubts on its effect as the killings and attacks continued even after ceasefire had been announced.

All Africa reported that around 50 people were killed in a violent attack in the small town of Bria in Uganda the day after the pact was signed.

Town Mayor Maurice Belikoussou confirmed the death toll.

"I can say there are around 50 dead," said Belikoussou. "There are 42 bodies that were taken to the hospital. There are also bodies in the neighborhoods that have not been picked up yet."

One armed group, Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (PFRC), which took part in the deal, admitted that they took part in the clashes between the Muslim rebels and the Christian anti-Balaka fighters.

PFRC spokesperson Djamil Babanani confirmed that their group took part in the fighting but said it was only an act of self-defense and retaliation after the group's leader Hamad Issa was killed in a previous clash.

"We signed the agreement, but we have to defend ourselves – we can't allow an attack to happen without reacting," he said.

Since the civil war began in 2013, thousands have already died in the conflict and more than 500,000 displaced in the violence-torn region, ABC News reported.

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