Church Shelled, Christians Killed/Wounded in Central African Republic

April 17, 2013 by Open Doors in General


Three artillery shells crashed into a church and killed seven people during a weekend of violence in the Central African Republic, according to a pastor. Gun battles reportedly claimed at least 20 lives in sectors of Bangui, the capital city, which has been controlled by an alliance of rebel groups since last month. Seven of the victims were attending Sunday services in the Evangelical Federation of Brothers church.

”Two shells landed on the church building and another one landed in the churchyard,” Rev. Mbaye-Bondoi told Watch World Monitor. He added that among the wounded were many children who were taken to the pediatric hospital for treatment. The pastor himself, who also is General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance in Central African Republic, sustained an injury that he said is not life-threatening.

Various independent news reports said clashes erupted Saturday, April 13, after members of the rebel forces known as Seleka began a sweep through parts of Bangui to round up weapons. Several rebel groups, unhappy with the Bozize, government, joined forces in December under the Seleka banner and quickly gained control of much of the country’s north, northeast and the central regions. The Chinese news agency Xinhua, citing an unnamed source within the recently formed National Transition Council, said the weapons had been handed out by the ousted Central African Republican president, Franis Bozize.

Three shells launched by Seleka forces from Boy-Rabe landed in the neighboring Cite Jean 23 area and hit the Evangelical Federation of Brothers. Most of the churches located in Boy-Rabe and Cite Jean 23, the two most affected areas, were closed Sunday, and many residents have fled to more secure areas of the capital. It is not known whether the church was targeted or simply caught in the crossfire, but since the Seleka coalition formed in December, there have been attacks on Christian clerics and lay people, as well as their homes and churches.

The recent incidents come a day after the National Transitional Council, the acting parliament, elected the rebel leader, Michel Djotodia, as interim president of Central African Republic. Djotodia has pledged not to run in the presidential elections in 2016.

Early attempts by new authorities to restore order have been unable to check looting in Bangui. “Our security is not guaranteed. As long as rebel fighters will stay in the city, insecurity will persist,” Mbaye-Bondoi said from an undisclosed location, where he is receiving care.

Father, with those in the Central African Republic, we mourn the death of those killed in clashes last weekend. And we pray for those who were wounded, among them children and other innocent bystanders, that their bodies and their minds would be healed of the violence. Whether Your church in Bangui was targeted or merely caught in the cross-fire, we pray for her safety. And we pray that Your church might be an instrument of peace in the midst of the on-going conflict. We pray that Pastor Mbaye-Bondoi will lead the church in turning to You for security and hope, and not to either the government of Bozize or that of Djotodia and his rebel forces. In the spiritual battle being waged there, we thank You for the sure hope that Christ is already victorious! In the name of Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Amen!

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