Just a few weeks before a planned referendum and subsequent elections in the Central African Republic (CAR), the hard work of peace building risks being undone.
Clashes broke out in the capital of Bangui over the weekend. From a Fides report, Open Doors has learned that a young Muslim was killed in a “Christian” neighborhood in Bangui last Friday.
On Saturday morning, his body was taken to a central mosque in Bangui. Later on Saturday, a group of Muslims poured into the neighborhood where the young boy was killed and began shooting at people. A dozen people were killed and 40 wounded. Around 4,000 people fled to refugee camps.
Early Saturday afternoon, anti-Balaka militias started fighting back. They destroyed a Muslim radio station headquarters, sparking Muslim plundering of the St. Michel parish and the home of Elim church Pastor Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou, one of the leaders of the inter-religious platform acclaimed for its work in the area of building inter-religious relations.
The clashes continued all afternoon and resulted in more deaths and injuries. According to Fides, the U.N. peacekeeping forces were caught off guard and unable to assess the extent of the fighting, “limiting themselves to strengthening the protection of their facilities in the afternoon.”
Fighting continued on Tuesday and forced President Samba-Panza to leave the U.N. General Assembly in New York to rush home.
Reuters reported today that two people died in fighting between gangs and militias on Tuesday night. Most of the fighting is between U.N. peacekeepers and Muslim, Christian and other groups, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported today that at least 39 people have died since Saturday.
Also, 500 inmates broke out of the central prison in Bangui. Many of them are anti-Balaka members.
Opposition parties called for mass demonstrations today against the U.N. and French forces to make way for the reconstitution of the national armed forces, the resignation of the president and the start of a new transition.
According to Reuters, the fresh violence has raised doubts about plans to hold elections on Oct. 18, meant to restore democracy in an impoverished country at the heart of one of Africa’s most combustible regions following a rebellion and years of turmoil.
CAR needs a miracle. Pray that peace will return and the clashes will end. Pray for physical and spiritual healing.
CAR is ranked #17 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.