Gunmen attack Muslims fleeing CAR, kill 22, 3 kids

Central African Republic Evacuations

FILE – In this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 file photo, French soldiers protect a truck of fleeing Muslims after it broke down and was surrounded by hundreds of hostile Christian residents, including several anti-balaka militiamen, in the Gobongo neighborhood of Bangui, Central African Republic. Central African Republic has long teetered on the brink of anarchy, but the new unrest unleashed by a March 2013 coup has ignited previously unseen sectarian hatred between Christians and Muslims. More than 1,000 people were killed in December alone and nearly 1 million displaced. The crisis has forced some to flee across borders to desperately poor and unstable countries like Chad and Congo. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

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UN team find burned villages, abuse in C.Africa

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Families sit in the Hopital de l’Amitie (Friendship hospital) in the Boy-Rabe neighbourhood in Bangui, on August 31, 2013. Aid workers who carried out an emergency mission to the north of strife-torn Central African Republic found villages abandoned and burned, and evidence of widespread rights abuses, the UN refugee agency said Friday. (AFP/File)

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GENEVA (AFP) –  Aid workers who carried out an emergency mission to the north of strife-torn Central African Republic found villages abandoned and burned, and evidence of widespread rights abuses, the UN refugee agency said Friday.

“The UNHCR team confirmed widespread lawlessness in the region. Local people spoke of physical assaults, extortion, looting, arbitrary arrest and torture by armed men,” said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The team travelled to a region some 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of the capital Bangui last week.

“We are, in general, increasingly worried about the civilians caught in the middle of the fighting and who are at the mercy of anyone with a gun,” she said, adding it remained unclear who was fighting.

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