News24

CAR diamond war death toll 43

2011-09-22 21:41

Bangui - A recent outbreak of fighting between rival armed groups in the Central African Republic vying for control over diamond mines left 43 dead, an army source said on Thursday.

The toll originally stood at 30 following week-long clashes in the central town of Bria which erupted on September 11.

The military source said authorities had raised the number of confirmed dead, ten of whom had been buried in pits.

"Four bodies thrown into a cemetery found in an advanced state of decomposition were buried on Tuesday," she added.

Officials have identified the rival groups as former rebels from the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) and the rebels of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP).

The UFDR is dominated by the Ronga and the CPJP by the Goula, two rival ethnic groups who have feuded over the region's diamond mines for years.

Bria is the country's main diamond mining hub.

President Francois Bozize, responding to media criticism over authorities' response to the conflict, told the national assembly on Wednesday: "No one provoked the Ronga and the Goula into fighting each other. I am not responsible for the fighting."

Bozize has condemned the clashes as "deplorable".