Central African Republic – “It felt like it was raining bullets”
Central African Republic

Central African Republic – “It felt like it was raining bullets”

Dozens of civilians were killed when three villages in the Ouham-Pendé region were attacked by gunmen on 21 May. One of the survivors, who was transferred to Bangui and treated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), recalls the events.

Gunshot wound being treated by an MSF doctor
MSF has been working in Paoua since 2006. Fighting broke out on 27 December 2017 between various armed groups, including MPC and Revolution Justice. Photo: Alexis Huguet

On 21 May, in Ndjondjom, Koundjili and Bohong villages, some 50 km away from Paoua, in North-Western Central African Republic, gunmen attacked and shot a number of civilians they had brought together with the excuse of organizing a meeting with the community.

“Gunmen wearing military fatigues and armed with Kalashnikovs arrived in my village and asked to see the community leaders to organize a general meeting. The population then gathered under a mango tree”, says Alphonse, one of the survivors of the attack, who was injured by gunshots and treated by MSF.

“Then they started to tie us up. They tore my shirt to tie my arms. They piled us on top of each other, then started shooting. It felt like it was raining bullets”.

Three injured people were admitted to Paoua hospital, where MSF teams work. According to Alphonse, very few people survived the attack – he managed to survive by playing dead. “Some managed to flee, but the others were finished off. Some of our relatives took us and put us on motorbikes to take us to Paoua hospital. They tell me they continue to discover dead bodies in the bush around the village”.

According to the UN and the Central African authorities, a total of 39 civilians were killed in Bohong, Ndjondjom, and Koundjili, while 15 others were slaughtered in separated attacks in Maikolo, during the previous days.

It is the first large-scale attack after the relative calm that followed the signature of a peace agreement between the government and 14 armed groups, in February 2019.

Find about more about MSF's work in the Central African Republic.