On Tuesday 21 May, in Ndjondjom, Koundjili and Bohong villages, some 50 kilometres away from Paoua, in northwestern Central African Republic, gunmen attacked and shot a number of civilians they had brought together with the excuse of organising a community meeting.
“Gunmen wearing military fatigues and armed with Kalashnikovs arrived in my village and asked to see the community leaders to organise a general meeting,” says Alphonse, one of the survivors of the attack, who was injured by gunshots and treated by MSF teams. “The people then gathered under a mango tree.”
“Then they started to tie us up. They tore my shirt to tie my arms,” Alphonse continues. “They piled us on top of each other, then started shooting. It felt like it was raining bullets.”
Some people managed to flee, but the others were finished off.Alphonse, survivor of CAR village attack
Three injured people were admitted to Paoua hospital, where MSF teams work. According to Alphonse, very few people survived the attack – he managed to survive by playing dead.
“Some managed to flee, but the others were finished off. Some of our relatives took us and put us on motorbikes to take us to Paoua hospital,” Alphonse says. “They tell me they continue to discover dead bodies in the bush around the village.”
According to the UN and the Central African authorities, a total of 39 civilians were killed in Bohong, Ndjondjom and Koundjili, while 15 others were slaughtered in separate attacks in Maikolo, during the previous days. It is the first large-scale attack after the relative calm that followed the signature of a peace agreement between the government and 14 armed groups, in February 2019.