Islamic rebels attack Christian villages in car; 15 killed

August 22, 2013 by  
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The Séléka rebels have left a trail of destruction in CAR

The Séléka rebels have left a trail of destruction in CAR

Africa, August 19, 2013: Islamist militants who seized control of the Central African Republic (CAR) in March are continuing their onslaught against the country’s Christians; at least 15 have been killed in attacks on Christian villages.

The raids by the Séléka rebels on around 14 villages in Bouar earlier this month displaced around 1,000 people. Witnesses reported that the attackers threw the bodies of those they had killed, including a five-month-old baby, in a river.

Since the coup, which overthrew President François Bozizé, the Séléka militants have been rampaging through the country on a killing, looting and raping spree. They are generally sparing Muslim areas and targeting Christian ones.

Around half of the population is Christian and only 15% Muslim; the latter are concentrated in the north, where the rebellion started.

A panel of United Nations experts last week noted reports of killings, torture, arbitrary detention, violence against women, forced disappearances and acts of popular justice.

The UN Security Council said on 14 August that it was deeply concerned about the “total breakdown in law and order” and warned that the crisis in CAR threatened the stability of the region.

Over 200,000 people have been internally displaced, while nearly 60,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

On 6 August, a senior Christian leader, the Rev. Nicolas Guerékoyamé, was arrested for openly criticising the new regime in a sermon delivered at his church in the capital, Bangui.

The authorities described his comments as “excessive and extremist”, saying that they “violated the dignity of the head of state and the transitional institutions”.

Mr Guerékoyamé, who is President of CAR’s Evangelical Alliance, has been outspoken about the government’s failure to take action against the militants’ rampant abuses against civilians.

Last month, he wrote an article for a journal suggesting that the people of CAR were being treated as slaves.

Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission said:

By arresting the evangelical leader, the new regime seems to be sending the message that churches and Christian groups should abstain from opposing new officials in any manner. And the selective attacks on Christian villages raise the fear that Christians might bear the brunt of the breakdown of law and order in the country.

Séléka, which means “alliance”, is a coalition of six Islamist rebel groups from CAR, Sudanand Chad. After seizing control of the country, it suspended the constitution and formed a National Transitional Council. Leader Michel Djotodia assumed the presidency, becoming the country’s first Muslim president. He has said privately that he wants to make CAR an Islamic republic.

– barnabas team

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