Taliban condemn violence in C. African Republic in rare statement looking beyond Afghanistan

The Afghan Taliban is calling for an end to violence against Muslims in the Central African Republic in a rare statement on conflicts outside their region.

Central African Republic has been wracked by sectarian violence, with Christian armed fighters hunting down and killing Muslim civilians in recent weeks despite the presence of thousands of peacekeepers. The violence has displaced tens of thousands of Muslims in what the United Nations human rights body has called "ethnic-religious cleansing."

In a statement released Saturday, the Taliban condemned the "merciless killings" of Muslims at the hands of "bloodthirsty militias" as the world sits "idly by."

It warned the situation threatens the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians throughout Africa and urged the international community — including the pope — to stop the bloodshed.