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Christian leader shot dead in Central African Republic

West & Central Africa

Christian leader shot dead in Central African Republic

Firmin Gbagoua. Photo credit: Facebook

A minister was shot dead this week in the Central African Republic, the third killing of a Christian leader in recent months in the troubled country.

Firmin Gbagoua, 52, was shot dead by gunmen thought to be from an Islamist rebel group, after walking into his home in Bambari on 29 June.

The prominent clergyman who had recently been appointed president of the Justice and Peace Commission of Bangui, was shot several times in the stomach and died later in hospital.

He is the third minister murdered by armed rebels in the country in the last four months. It is believed that former Seleka Muslim militants are responsible for the attacks.

An Islamist group l’Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) has been blamed for the murder. It follows the killings of Albert Tougoumale Baba at Fatima Church in Bangui in May, and of Desire Angbabata, also believed to have been killed by the UPC, in Bambari in March.

A church source said Mr Gbagoua was “a simple and very humble person” who was key “in all the mediation processes to try to keep the peace in Bambari.” A guard was also injured in the attack, according to local reports.

The Central African Republic, which has a Christian majority, continues to be wracked by violence despite a ceasefire with Islamist rebel groups in 2017.

According to the UN, more than a quarter of CAR’s population have fled their homes, around 690,000 are internally displaced, and almost 570,000 are refugees.