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April 19, 2014

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Central African Republic militia leaders arrested

Updated Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 | 10:10 a.m.

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Officials in Central African Republic say 11 men including leaders of the Christian anti-Balaka militia have been transferred to the capital's main prison.

The men were detained during a disarmament program Saturday. They are the first prisoners taken into custody by the government of transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza.

Justice Minister Isabelle Gaudeuille declined to name the suspects or specify the allegations against them. But Jean-Pierre Sadou of the African peacekeeping mission said they included multiple anti-Balaka leaders.

The anti-Balaka militia formed in response to widespread abuses committed by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels, who overthrew the president of a decade last year.

Militia members have been implicated in recent brutal violence targeting Muslims, and the head of the French military mission has called them "enemies of the peace."