As of Friday, June 30, the town of Bria - located approximately 580 km (360 mi) northeast of the capital Bangui - remains in the hands of the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (FPRC), a predominantly Muslim rebel group that formed out of the former Seleka coalition. The town came under FPRC control on June 20, when the group carried out an armed attack against residents that killed at least 50 individuals and resulted in the vast majority of residents fleeing their homes. Nearly 90 percent of Bria's 45,000 inhabitants have yet to return.
The June 20 clashes broke out just one day after the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) signed an "immediate ceasefire" agreement with 13 rebel groups at a meeting in Rome. Under the accord, rebel groups would be given political representation in the country's parliament in exchange for the cessation of violent attacks and blockades. Rebel soldiers would also be integrated into the CAR's armed forces. The ceasefire was mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant Egidio peace group.
Religious conflicts have ravaged the CAR since December 2013. Bangui especially has been gripped by deadly clashes between the Christian Anti-Balaka and Muslim FPRC militias. The conflict has resulted in hundreds of deaths, created almost 1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and pushed more than 500,000 people to seek refuge in the neighboring countries of Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad.
Many Western governments advise against travel to the CAR due to these and other security concerns. Travel should only be considered with proper security protocols in place.
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