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CAR church attack leaves 15 dead, including church minister

West & Central Africa

CAR church attack leaves 15 dead, including church minister

A church minister and at least 15 people were killed in an attack on a church service in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, on Tuesday 1 May.

“Christians began to flee until bullets and grenades began to fall in the parish grounds, trapping those who remained in the compound”, one of the church ministers told journalists. Police exchanged fire with the attackers and made a hole in the wall surrounding the church, enabling those trapped to escape.

The Central African Red Cross later reported that a further 99 people were 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 to against a Muslim armed group based in the PK 5 district, which has previously attacked United Nations’ 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.