More than 1,000 civilians have been killed in a western Ivory Coast town, a Catholic charity said Saturday, adding that the mass killings happened in an area under the control of forces fighting to install the country’s internationally recognized president.

Spokesman Patrick Nicholson of the Roman Catholic charity Caritas said workers visited Duekoue on Wednesday and found hundreds of bodies of civilians killed by bullets from small-arms fire and hacked to death with machetes. He said the victims included many refugees from fighting elsewhere in the country, where rival forces had been battling over a disputed November election. The area is in the middle of a huge conflict between two tribes that support rival leaders vying for power in Ivory Coast, the democratically elected Ouattara and Gbagbo, who refuses to accept his election defeat.

The massacre took place from March 27-March 29th. Investigations show people were killed at close quarters in a small neighborhood of a town of just 50,000 people.

International and Ivorian Red Cross teams visited Duekoue Friday and saw a “huge number of bodies,” estimated at more than 800.

“We think there is a risk that this kind of event can happen again and hope that by calling today again for protection for the civilian population, we hope that such events can be avoided in the future,” ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas told The Associated Press by phone from Geneva.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement Saturday saying it had documented abuses, with the vast majority perpetrated by forces loyal to Gbagbo against real or perceived Ouattara supporters, as well as against West African immigrants and Muslims.

“The documented abuses include targeted killings, enforced disappearances, politically motivated rapes, and unlawful use of lethal force against unarmed demonstrators,” the statement said. “These abuses, committed over a four-month period by security forces under the control of Gbagbo and militias loyal to him, may rise to the level of crimes against humanity.

Who will come to the aid of these people as the US is arguably doing in Libya? How do we pick our battles and wars? Why do we go after and “defend” some countries, but not others?

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