A church minister and at least 15 people were killed in an attack on a church service and Christian neighbourhood in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, on Tuesday 1 May.
A local church leader told Barnabas Fund, “We were holding our church leaders' retreat. Unfortunately from ten until three in the afternoon, there was constant gunfire by armed groups … Apparently well informed of a programme taking place at the church … they surrounded the building and went in while a service was being held, throwing grenades and firing at the participants. They killed the minister on the spot along with five others, and inflicted a number of injuries.”
The attackers then rampaged through the Christian neighbourhood, “looting shops and killing one of our church members in front of his house … Reprisal attacks have been reported in various parts of the city since, and we fear that the situation could get out of hand.”
The Central African Red Cross later reported that 99 people had been wounded. The attack took place on the edge of the predominantly Muslim “PK 5” neighbourhood of the city. Local sources have claimed the church was targeted in “retaliation”, after security forces mounted an operation against a Muslim armed group based in the PK 5 district, which has previously attacked UN peacekeeping forces.
The same church was attacked in 2014, when gunmen armed with grenades killed a church minister and several worshippers.
The Christian-majority Central Africa Republic has been blighted by violence since 2013, when the Seleka Islamist armed group briefly overthrew the government. Despite the agreement of a ceasefire in June 2017, Christian communities continue to be the targets of attacks. Violence continues between Seleka Islamists and “anti-balaka” militia, who misleadingly call themselves Christians, despite their actions being condemned by church leaders.
From Barnabas Fund contacts