A military event that was supposed to signal a new start for the Central African Republic became a horrific lynching that put the country's divisions on stark display yesterday. Moments after a speech from Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza hailing the reconstitution of the national army, a group of about 20 soldiers accused a man in the crowd of being a former rebel—and swiftly stabbed him to death. They then hacked off several of his limbs, dragged his lifeless body to a busy street, and set it on fire, the Washington Post reports.
The soldiers then took smiling pictures in front of the blaze. African Peacekeeping troops simply watched, as did the crowd—which seemed largely approving. French troops eventually arrived and pushed people back. "A woman came up to me and said, 'We'll eat him after he is cooked,'" says a Human Rights Watch official who was there. CAR's Christian majority deeply resents the mostly-Muslim rebels, whose 10-month reign following a March coup was marked by looting, torture, and murder, Reuters explains. The rebels left power last month, but are regrouping in the Northwest. (Read more Central African Republic stories.)