The Anti-balaka is an alliance of militia groups based in the Central African Republic in the early 21st century said to be composed primarily of Christians.[3] However, some church leaders have contested the claimed exclusively Christian character of such groups.[4] The Tony Blair Faith Foundation and journalist Andrew Katz have noted that animists also participate in Anti-balaka groups.[5][6]

Leaders Maxime Mokom Surrendered
Dieudonné Ndomaté Surrendered
Levy Yakete 
Patrice Edouard Ngaissona Surrendered
See full list
Dates of operation2013–present
HeadquartersBossangoa[1] (until 2021)
N'Djamena, Chad (since 2021)[2]
Active regionsCentral African Republic
Part ofCoalition of Patriots for Change (since 2020)
OpponentsSéléka and splinter groups (until 2020)
Battles and warsCentral African Republic Civil War (2012–present)

This militia formed in the Central African Republic after the rise to power of Michel Djotodia in 2013.[7] Amnesty International reported in 2015 that some members of anti-balaka groups have forcibly converted Muslims to Christianity.[8] Anti-balaka groups have also kidnapped, burnt and buried alive in public ceremonies women accused of being 'witches'.[9]


Though "anti-balaka" is often translated as "antimachete", its origin is explained:

[It is] from the language of the young illiterates, who formed Seleka's armed opposition, and who chased the Muslim 'anti-balles à ti laka' (anti ti laka bullets). The term 'laka' in the street language of the Central African Republic means an AK-47. The anti-balakas are therefore the bearers of grigris meant to stop Kalashnikov bullets.[10]


Some commentators have said that village militias formed in the 1990s to protect against highwaymen were a precursor to the Antibalaka.[7] Unable to provide security throughout the remote areas of the country, President François Bozizé organized, self-protection groups in 2009 to combat crime on the village level; these took the name Antibalaka.[5]

In March 2013, President Bozizé (a Christian) was overthrown by a coup during the Central African Republic Civil War by a mostly Muslim rebel coalition known as Séléka. The leader of the Séléka, Michel Djotodia, became the first Muslim president of the country.[11] With the disbanding of the army by Djotodia, many army members joined the militia, boosting their numbers and helping train them.[5]

Djotodia announced the dissolution of the Séléka in September 2013,[12] but most of the militias refused to disband.[13] The Séléka and the anti-balaka engaged in a cycle of increasing violence.[13][14]

As many Christians had more settled lifestyles and many Muslims were nomadic, competing claims to the land were another dimension of the tensions.[15] In November 2013, the UN warned that the country was at risk of spiraling into genocide,[16] and was "descending into complete chaos".[17] France described the country as "... on the verge of genocide".[18] On 2 December 2013, anti-balaka militiamen are suspected to have killed 12 people, including children, and wounded 30 others in an attack on the mostly-Muslim Fula in Boali, according to the government.[19] This was amidst the Central African Republic conflict under the Djotodia administration.

Territories under control of Anti-balaka in 2014

Early 2014 marked a turning point; hardened by war and massacres, the anti-balaka committed multiple atrocities.[6] In December 2013, UNICEF reported that in sectarian violence in Bangui, at least two children were beheaded and one of them was mutilated.[20]


In 2014, Amnesty International reported several massacres committed by anti-balaka militias against Muslim civilians, forcing thousands of Muslims to flee the country.[21] On 13 January more than 100 people were killed by Anti-balaka in Bossemptélé massacre.[22]

In 2014, the corpse of Camille Lepage, a missing French photojournalist, was found by French soldiers in a truck used by Anti-Balaka members.[23]

On 24 June 100 Anti-balaka fighters attacked Bambari. 46 people were killed and 28 wounded.[24]


On 9 May 2017 Anti-balaka attacked UPC forces in Alindao before withdrawing to Mingala.[25] On 13 May Anti-balaka attacked Bangassou killing more than 115 people including one peacekeeper.[26] On 18 May heavy clashes erupted between Anti-balaka and ex-Seleka in Bria resulting in 26 deaths.[27]


On 31 October Heavy clashes broke out between anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka fighters in Batangafo resulting in at least 15 deaths.[28]


Anti-balaka fighter in Mobaye, 2019

In 2019, an Anti-balaka leader in Satema killed a 14-year-old girl in a ritualistic way to increase profit from mines.[29]


On 3 August Anti-balaka attacked Grimari blocking roads to Sibut and Bambari. FACA managed to recapture city the same day killing one Anti-balaka commander.[30] On 23 October Clashes erupted between two factions of Anti-balaka in Batangafo.[31] Clashes were also reported later between Anti-balaka and ex-Séléka in the city. Seven people were killed (including three civilians and four militiamen) and more than 100 injured.[32] On 17 December On Anti-balaka joined Coalition of Patriots for Change.[33] On 26 December Anti-balaka fighters from Kaga-Bandoro attacked Dekoa killing three Burundian peacekeepers. Three militiamen were arrested by MINUSCA forces.[34]


Between 6 and 16 December 2021 Anti-balaka fighters from pro-government faction killed Muslim civilians in Boyo commune for their alleged links with UPC rebels.

List of Anti-balaka leadersEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "How to prevent a return to violence in the Central African Republic". October 2020.
  2. ^ François Bozizé et d'autres chefs rebelles centrafricains se trouvent à Ndjamena, 7 November 2021
  3. ^ "Christian militias take bloody revenge on Muslims in Central African Republic". Guardian. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  4. ^ "There are no Christian militias killing Muslims in the Central African Republic". Aid to the Church in Need. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Emily Mellgard. "What is the Antibalaka?". tonyblairfaithfoundation. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  6. ^ a b Andrew Katz (May 29, 2014). "'A Question of Humanity': Witness to the Turning Point In Central African Republic". Time.
  7. ^ a b C.Africa militia is an enemy of peace: French commander,, recovered 14 March 2014
  8. ^ Central African Republic: Unprotected Muslims forced to abandon religion, Amnesty International UK (July 31, 2015).
  9. ^ Esslemont, Tom. "Witch burning rebels stoke Central African Republic violence". U.S. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  10. ^ See: "La République centrafricaine: le naufrage d'un Etat, l'agonie d'une Nation», Didier Niewiadowski", Revue d'étude et de recherche sur le droit et l'administration dans les pays d'Afrique, May 2014, quoted in Blood Timber, How Europe Helped Fund War in the Central African Republic (Report), End Notes n. 21, p. 48
  11. ^ "Religious tensions rise in C.Africa after coup". AFP. March 31, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  12. ^ "CAR's Djotodia dissolves Seleka rebel group". AFP. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Unspeakable horrors in a country on the verge of genocide". AFP. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  14. ^ "CAR's death toll much higher than thought, says Amnesty". BBC News. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  15. ^ "'We Live and Die Here Like Animals'". Foreign Policy. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  16. ^ "UN warning over Central African Republic genocide risk". BBC News. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  17. ^ "BBC News - Central African Republic 'descending into chaos' - UN". BBC News. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  18. ^ "France says Central African Republic on verge of genocide". Reuters. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  19. ^ "Central African Republic militia 'killed' children". BBC News. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  20. ^ Mark Tran & agencies, Children 'beheaded and mutilated' in Central African Republic, says Unicef, The Guardian (December 30, 2013).
  21. ^ "Christian threats force Muslim convoy to turn back in CAR exodus". The Guardian. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  22. ^ "Central African Republic: Ethnic cleansing and sectarian killings" (PDF). Amnesty International. 12 February 2014.
  23. ^ "French photojournalist Camille Lepage killed in Central African Republic". the Guardian. May 13, 2014. Retrieved Feb 16, 2021.
  24. ^ Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic, 1 August 2014
  25. ^ "Central African Republic. Operational Update" (PDF). May 2017.
  26. ^ "Red Cross: 115 bodies found in CAR's Bangassou". 17 May 2017.
  27. ^ CAR: Clashes break out in Bria (northeast) May 18-19
  28. ^ "Summary of internal review on the October 31st events in Batangafo, Central African Republic" (PDF). February 2019.
  29. ^ Letter dated 6 December 2019 from the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to resolution 2454 (2019) addressed to the President of the Security Council , page 153
  30. ^ "RCA : vive tension à Grimari, un général Anti-Balaka tué par les FACA". 3 August 2020.
  31. ^ "Centrafrique : Deux factions des antibalaka font couler des sangs à Batangafo". 25 October 2020.
  32. ^ "Centrafrique : 7 morts et une centaine de blessés, un bilan provisoire des violences au nord du pays". 27 October 2020.
  33. ^ Centrafrique : Déclaration de la Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement, 18 December 2020
  34. ^ Centrafrique : Résumé d’actualité de la semaine en 10 points, 9 January 2021