In a shocking scene, Central African Republic troops first stabbed and then lynched a man suspected of belonging to now-disbanded Seleka rebels. The hideous act came just after a ceremony where the crisis-hit country’s new interim President Catherine Samba-Panza had addressed the armed forces, urging for national unity. Seleka fighters, largely Muslim, overthrew the government in Bangui last year, leading to months of chaos that saw the country’s standing army melt away. Clashes between ex-Seleka factions and Christian militias led to thousands of deaths and almost a quarter of the nation displaced by the unprecedented sectarian violence.
Jerome Delay, Chief Africa photographer for the AP, was one of three photographers at the scene. He describes this incident in a note to TIME and offers a stark warning:
Today I met the Devil. In a scene Quentin Tarantino would not have dreamed scripting, I saw a man killed. Butchered. By his fellow countrymen. His mistake was to be named Idris and to be Muslim. What was first an orderly cheering crowd happy to hear they were finally going to get paid, turned in an instant into a tidal wave of barbarism.The VIPs had barely left. We have reached the point of no return in sectarian violence.