91 christian bodies at the morgue of Community hospital, dating mostly from the day before. Many are civilians on which Seleka got revenge after the several attacks of Antibalaka on Bangui.
Dec. 6, 2013. Bodies in the morgue of the Hôpital Communautaire in Bangui.William Daniels—Panos
91 christian bodies at the morgue of Community hospital, dating mostly from the day before. Many are civilians on which Seleka got revenge after the several attacks of Antibalaka on Bangui.
A dozen bodies of christians (some antibalakas fighters and some civilians) lay down in front of the National Assembly (= parliament)
91 christian bodies at the morgue of Community hospital, dating mostly from the day before. Many are civilians on which Seleka got revenge after the several attacks of Antibalaka on Bangui.
At the morgue of Ali Babolo mosque in the muslim district of 5Kilo, 58 bodies, including 4 women, were brought following several battles launched on early morning by antibalakas. Most of the dead were killed by machete blows.
At the morgue of Ali Babolo mosque in the muslim district of 5Kilo, 58 bodies, including 4 women, were brought following several battles launched on early morning by antibalakas. Most of the dead were killed by machete blows.
At the morgue of Ali Babolo mosque in the muslim district of 5Kilo, 58 bodies, including 4 women, were brought following several battles launched on early morning by antibalakas. Most of the dead were killed by machete blows.
Wounded people both christians and muslims at the community hospital in Bangui. Aid workers and medical staff treated about 100 people and about 50 bodies were brought  to the hospital morgue.
A mulsim man wounded by machete blows is treated in a Ali Babolo mosque in the muslim district of 5Kilo, 58 bodies, including 4 women, were also brought there following several battles launched on early morning by antibalakas. Most of the dead were killed by machete blows.
At the morgue of Ali Babolo mosque in the muslim district of 5Kilo, 58 bodies, including 4 women, were brought following several battles launched on early morning by antibalakas. Most of the dead were killed by machete blows.
Seleka fighters collected the body of a Seleka general who died during the battles launched on the early morning by the antibalakas.
Seleka fighters in the street of Bangui, while fighting continue between Antibalaka and seleka members. The Antibalaka launched an attack on Bangui on several districts.
About 25 Antibalakas fighters hiding in the bush around Bangui. Most of them are villagers from everywhere in the country. According to their boss they are several thousand ready to attack Bangui.
Wounded Peul children in Bangui. According to the government, Antibalaka fighters attacked a peul (muslim tribe) village and killed A dozen of adults, mostly women and wounded about 14 children. The children were kept in an army garnison during two hours before going to hospital so that foreign journalists, the president and the prime minister as well as an UN inspector could see and photographed them. It wasn't possible to verify the number and truth of death.
Wounded Peul children in Bangui. According to the government, Antibalaka fighters attacked a peul (muslim tribe) village and killed A dozen of adults, mostly women and wounded about 14 children. The children were kept in an army garnison during two hours before going to hospital so that foreign journalists, the president and the prime minister as well as an UN inspector could see and photographed them. It wasn't possible to verify the number and truth of death.
Funerals of magistrate Bria who was murdered 2 weeks earlier by Ex Seleka members. His death became a symbol for the whole population of Bangui who is fed up with Ex Seleka exactions. It led to several demonstrations in the city.
Funerals of magistrate Bria who was murdered 2 weeks earlier by Ex Seleka members. His death became a symbol for the whole population of Bangui who is fed up with Ex Seleka exactions. It led to several demonstrations in the city.
Dec. 6, 2013. Bodies in the morgue of the Hôpital Communautaire in Bangui.
William Daniels—Panos
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Bloodshed in Bangui: A Day That Will Define Central African Republic

Dec 06, 2013

Friday, Dec. 6, 2:30pm EST: We have updated the estimated death toll to reflect the most recent statistics published by the Red Cross. New images by William Daniels have been added to the beginning of the slideshow, and we'll continue to update this post as newer information becomes available.

The phone rang just before dawn. On the other end, call after call, were voices informing William Daniels, the French photojournalist, of fresh attacks on several districts in Bangui, the ramshackle capital of the crisis-hit Central African Republic. Not a day earlier, on Dec. 4, the fighters he met in the bush, an hour's walk from the center of town, had said that wouldn't happen: That men with big knives and guns wouldn't come in to attack the men who attacked them first.

But in this latest bout of bloodshed, Christian vigilantes in self-defense units referred to as anti-balaka (or "anti-machete") reportedly swung into sections of Bangui previously overrun by Séléka, a disbanded alliance of rebel groups with mostly Muslim fighters. They mercilessly laid into their aggressors and Muslim civilians, exacting revenge for nearly a year of Séléka-instigated instability. Hours later and despite light weaponry, at least when compared to the rocket-propelled grenades and kalashnikovs flaunted by the ex-Séléka, hundreds were feared dead and scores more wounded. Two days later, the Red Cross said it had collected 394 bodies and expected to find more. This, nine months after Séléka barreled into the city, ousting President Françios Bozizé and installing one of their own as his successor. This, mere hours before the U.N. Security Council approved military action by France and other African nations to try to restore law and order.

When the firefights stopped, the enormity of what transpired became apparent. Daniels, 36, had heard a lot, but was kept back until the clamor faded. He ended up at Hôpital Communautaire, its morgue holding some 50 bodies, by an aid worker's estimate. A tireless staff struggled to mend more than double that figure. "It was very tense. You had to walk in between people lying on the floor," he told TIME. "They asked us not to stay very long because they didn't have much space." The wounds were ghastly: "Some had very, very big cuts on their arms, on their legs." Some, even, on their backsides. Those, he suspected, the result of machetes as they fled.

He and several colleagues found a similar scene at the Ali Babolo Mosque in the PK5 neighborhood. To get there, the normally aggressive ex-Séléka designated a fighter to safely escort them. Upon reaching the worship site, the man told his brethren: "All the journalists are coming. They're coming to photograph the dead bodies, so don't get angry with them." There, in a small space, were 58 of them; mostly civilians, including four women. "Seeing all those bodies was very shocking," Daniels said. "Very, very shocking." The group stayed about 30 minutes.

The staccato of sporadic gunfire could be heard through the afternoon. Once night fell, the city center remained eerily empty. No cars, no people, no noise. For how long, he couldn't say. After the U.N. resolution was approved, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the intervention would begin before the next dawn. Some reinforcements did arrive, but Daniels said it's the ordinary citizens he'll continue to photograph: "What is most important is to cover the human side of the conflict." He doesn't see how this battle, seemingly growing more sectarian as each month passes, could end quickly. Not after he and the other journalists returned to the hospital and counted 40 more bodies. Not after Dec. 5: "What happened today, you can't go back. There's no way to go back after that."

William Daniels is a photographer represented by Panos Pictures. Daniels previously wrote for TIME about his escape from Syria.

Andrew Katz is a reporter with TIME covering international affairs. Follow him on Twitter @katz.

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