June 29, 2014
At a military base in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, a foreign peacekeeper unlocks a row of dusty storage containers to reveal a lethal armory. The weapons are a small sampling of those seized from rival militias who have dragged the country into an ethnic and sectarian bloodbath.
As Muslims and Christians turned on each other, domestic utensils and farm implements became weapons of war.
Neighbors hacked neighbors to death with knives, axes and machetes.
All manner of weapons were enlisted: Handmade bows and arrows. Old hunting rifles. Grenades and rocket launchers.
The turmoil began when a predominantly Muslim rebel alliance seized power last year. For months, they terrorized the country. Militias made up mostly of Christians and animists fought back. They call themselves anti-balaka, or anti-machete, forces — a reference to secret rituals they believe make them impervious to any weapon.
The rebel government collapsed in January. The bloodletting continues.