Armed militants believed to be remnants of Séléka, a coalition force of radical Islamic insurgents that ruled the Central African Republic for 9 months before losing power in December 2013, have attacked a church compound in Bangui housing between 4,000 and 6,000 Christians. Though death tolls are still unknown, Rev. Jesus Martial Dembele, vicar general for the archdiocese of Bangui says “many people have been killed.” Christians suffered immensely under the Séléka regime. For much of 2013, Séléka members and emboldened radical Muslims raped and murdered Christians, pillaged their communities, and looted their churches with complete impunity. In response, a rebel force known as the anti-balaka, or anti-machete, began coordinating attacks against Séléka. Those attacks have since spiraled pout of control, ushering in a seemingly endless exchange of tit-for-tat reprisal attacks which have seen to the deaths of thousands of innocent Christians and Muslims. In the CAR, the situation remains dire as security forces await the arrival of a United Nations peace-keeping force set to enter the country in September.
07/08/2014 Central African Republic (CAR) – Rebel fighters and armed Muslim civilians killed “many” people in an attack on a church compound in the Central African Republic on Monday where thousands of civilians had taken refuge, Catholic Church officials said.
The attack in Bambari, 380 km (236 miles) northwest of the capital Bangui, came just a day before French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was due to visit the town, where a grenade attack injured seven French soldiers last week.
Church officials said fighters from the Seleka rebel movement and armed civilians from the town’s Muslim community entered St. Joseph’s Cathedral around 3 p.m. (1400 GMT).
“We don’t have the exact death toll yet, but many people have been killed. As I’m speaking to you, they are still there,” the Rev. Jesus Martial Dembele, vicar general for the archdiocese of Bangui, told Reuters.
Between 4,000 and 6,000 mainly Christian civilians live at the cathedral, church officials said.