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ICC Note: An attack on a Catholic church in the Central African Republic that left 16 dead has disrupted the peace that the capital once had. The attack brought back memories to four years ago when Seleka rebel fighters entered a parish and killed 18 people. Religious and political leaders have condemned the killings and are warning against attempts to portray it as an inter-religious clash.

05/04/2018 Central African Republic (World Watch Monitor) – At least 24 people are feared killed and more than a hundred injured following a fresh outbreak of violence in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, on Tuesday, 1 May.

Until recent weeks, the capital had been considered a safe haven in the war-torn country – the only place the government is in control, with three-quarters of the country occupied by armed groups.

The Tuesday attack, in which a Catholic priest was among 16 killed in one church, has shattered this sense of tranquillity. It brought back memories of the earliest days of the conflict, when Séléka rebels entered the capital in March 2013, and the failed attempt by self-defence militias (known as Anti-Balaka) to oust the rebels from the capital in December 2013.

Three weeks ago, 28 people, including a UN soldier, were killed in clashes between peacekeepers and militias in PK5, the capital’s predominantly Muslim area, which is also its commercial hub.

On Tuesday, as President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and his government were attending the official 1 May ceremony marking International Workers’ Day, on the capital’s Avenue of Martyrs, thousands of people from the Diocese of Bangui gathered for a Mass at Notre Dame de Fatima (Our Lady of Fatima) Church, for “oath-taking” on the occasion of the anniversary of St. Joseph.

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