Attacks against Christian have escalated since May 2, when gunmen attacked Notre-Dame de Fatima Church, in Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) with grenades killing 15 people. The attack before it killed 28 people. These are both tragic pointers to the persecution Christians trapped in a war, triggered by Islamist in 2012, when a group of Muslim militia, Séléka, overthrew the government and from then went on a rampage killing Christians and destroying Christian villages.
In another targeted attack, the house of another Church minister was set on fire while Christian-majority neighbourhoods have been deserted following the surge in violence in parts of Bangui.
A resident of the community said to Barnabas Fund, “Our fears are being confirmed. Attacks carried out by armed groups in the Km5, a predominantly Muslim district, have left tens of people dead since this afternoon … Kpetene and Gbakodja quarters lie deserted and empty, the inhabitants having fled in fear of attacks. Houses in Castors have been burned, including that of the church minister, and the chief of the quarter and many of the other inhabitants have been killed. The morgue is filled to overflowing with dead bodies.”
The resident added, “We do not know what will be the outcome of this situation. Please continue to pray … The same scenarios of the previous years are happening all over again.”
A lot of discussions have taken place and agreements reached for a ceasefire with Islamist rebel groups in 2017, but the government has been unable to keep to the terms of the
agreements. The Christian-majority Central African Republic continues to be wracked by violence, reports pointed out, UN peacekeepers and government security personnel have been attacked by Muslim armed groups in Bangui, while reprisal attacks have also been perpetrated by so-called Christian “anti-balaka” militia groups, although their actions have been condemned by church leaders.
From March 2013 a protracted sectarian massacre of unarmed, poor villagers has killed thousands while victims carried scars of machete attacks and women suffer the trauma of multiple rape.
A Forbes report pointed out that “The religious conflict is deeply rooted and had not yet been adequately addressed. The conflict cannot be analysed in this vacuum. Any response to the attacks needs to take into consideration the historic internal conflict.”
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos