Appalling violence between Muslims and Christians is front and center in this New Yorker article from John Lee Anderson, who reports from Bossemptele in the Central African Republic (CAR). According to Anderson, the factions long lived together in relative peace, but in 2012 things began to go very wrong. A Muslim rebel group called the Seleka began an incursion into Christian areas, and the Christians in turn started their own armed group, the Antibalaka, which quickly went from a defensive civilian army to a genocidal organization hellbent on eliminating Muslims from the country of 4.5 million people.
The Seleka kept up their atrocities: burning people alive, killing hospital patients, throwing bound prisoners off bridges to drown. Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, who spent months investigating the conflict, said, “Just think the four horsemen of the apocalypse and you’ll have the picture. People really hated them. That’s what got the Antibalaka going.” …
The [Antibalaka] fighters were emboldened by the belief, inspired by animist traditions, that they were protected by magic. They festooned themselves with wigs, costumes, and amulets to ward off attacks, and assembled an arsenal of bows with poison-tipped arrows, machetes, and a few hunting rifles. Dieudonné ["God-given," one of the founders of the Antibalaka movement] proudly recounted their exploits in early battles, seizing weapons and killing Seleka. When I pointed out that his men had killed entire families, he put on an obstinate look. “Yes, but the Seleka killed entire families,” he said. “They killed our people and left our parents to be eaten by dogs. We balanced things out. That’s vengeance, isn’t it?”