Bangui, Central African Republic: I was heading back to the hotel to file after a ceremony in Bangui, where the interim president had promised to reinstate the country’s armed forces, urging for national unity. I was in the taxi for just a few minutes when my fixer asked me to come back as people were attacking and killing a man.
The crowd was in a violent, bloodthirsty frenzy and I tried to stay alert; an angry crowd can be dangerous, unpredictable and very scary, something I had unfortunately witnessed there before. The lifeless body of the victim, suspected of having joined the former Seleka rebel group, was being dragged, kicked, stabbed and pelted with rocks by Central African Republic soldiers.
Although no one noticed the journalists, I didn’t feel like witnessing the lynching for a moment longer than I thought necessary. I must have stayed at the scene for no more than ten minutes.
I don’t believe that photographers should ever get used to witnessing such violence and the event definitely affected me. Still, during these situations, I try to protect myself by not allowing certain memories to linger in my mind too long. I believe this picture is a strong reminder of how deep the thirst of revenge runs in the country and how difficult it will be for any internal or external force to stabilize and bring long lasting peace in the Central African Republic.
A Central African Army soldier stabs the corpse of a man, who was killed as he was accused of joining the ousted Seleka fighters, in the capital Bangui, February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Seigfried Modola