RLPB 480. Central Africa Republic (CAR): Massacre in Alindao
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 480 | Wed 21 Nov 2018
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR): MASSACRE IN ALINDAO
— Elizabeth Kendal
CFF Director of Advocacy
On Thursday 15 November ex-Seleka Islamic militants perpetrated a massacre in Alindao, a south-central town some 300km east of the capital, Bangui. A front-line, mostly Christian town, Alindao is occupied by ethnic Peul (Fulani) Islamic militants belonging to the mostly Fulani UPS (Union for Peace in Central African Republic). According to reports, the massacre was retaliation for the killing of a Muslim by anti-balaka militiamen (local, non-Muslim vigilantes). The UPS militants looted and burned the Catholic Cathedral and attacked the Bishop’s residence; Bishop Blaise Mada, Vicar General of the diocese of Alindao, was amongst those shot and killed there. The militants then attacked the Catholic mission camp — home to some 20,000 displaced persons — looting, burning and killing. Many who died there were burned alive in their tents as the camp was ‘burned to the ground’. The charred remains of Rev Celestin Ngoumbango, the parish priest of the village of Mingala, were subsequently found there. Thousands have reportedly fled into the bush. The Most Rev Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, Bishop of Alindao, is organising the evacuation of survivors to Bangui. To date, 48 people are confirmed dead, including the two priests and several other religious workers.
According to Father Mathieu Bondobo, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Bangui, threats before the attack received by Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, the Bishop of Alindao, suggest the attacks were premeditated. Though Bishop Yapaupa notified UN peacekeepers, they did not defend the facilities or intervene. ‘Everyone was left to their own devices,’ he said. ‘The rebels had time to do whatever they wanted. And they did.’ Amos Boubas, a Central African priest who is studying in Rome, heard the same. ‘From what I have been told by my contacts, the Blue Helmets of MINUSCA [UN peacekeepers] did not defend the population from the rebels who committed the assault in Alindao. At the arrival of the guerillas they went back to their base, leaving the population to their fate of death and destruction.’
Just two weeks earlier, on 31 October, a clash erupted between anti-balaka and ex-Seleka Islamic militants in the north-western town of Batangafo, some 380km due north of Bangui. A front-line, mostly Christian town, Batangafo is occupied by Islamic militants belonging to the MPC (Patriotic Movement for the Central African Republic), a splinter of the FPRC (Patriotic Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic). The clash resulted in one Islamic fighter being admitted to hospital. MPC militants retaliated by looting and burning thousands of homes, three camps hosting 27,000 displaced persons, a market in the city and a chapel. Around 20 people were injured; some with gunshot wounds, most with burns. More than 10,000 people sought shelter in the town’s hospital; 5,000 remain there, too fearful to leave. ‘It was like a horror scene,’ says Helena Cardellach, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) Field Coordinator in Batangafo. ‘We saw hundreds of households in flames. It was awful.’ According to the UN, ‘The fire destroyed more than 5,100 tents as well as the market and caused the displacement of around 30,000 people.’
In December 2017 Russia secured an exemption to the Security Council arms embargo, allowing Moscow to deliver arms to the CAR military and train its soldiers to fight the jihadists, many of whom are foreigners, mostly from Chad and Sudan. Russia is also spearheading mediation efforts; it is assistance for which the Church in CAR is deeply grateful. Unfortunately, Russian assistance to the CAR government has triggered an arms race as Islamist factions also up-the-ante. Like most Islamic jihadists, the jihadists controlling much of CAR are merely proxies of external powers: transnational criminals, war profiteers, Islamist networks and foreign governments whose interests and ‘secret agendas’ necessitate the destabilisation of states. As His Excellency, Mgr Juan Jose Aguirre Munos, Bishop of Bangassou, rightly notes, ‘foreign forces want to make Central Africans fight each other in order to get their hands on the wealth of the country and open the road to radical Islam in the heart of Africa’.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO
* sever the Islamic jihadists’ lines of supply so they might be starved of funds and deprived of weapons and foreign fighters; may the plots of those who seek CAR’s ruin be thwarted. ‘Break the arm [strength, mechanism of action] of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.’ (from Psalm 10)
* intervene for the benefit of CAR, and especially for CAR’s suffering Church; may all suffering be redeemed; may the devil have no victory here.
* protect and comfort CAR’s suffering Church; abandoned by the world, may she be lifted up and encouraged by the prayers of the Body of Christ. May the Lord supply her every need and deliver her from evil.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
MASSACRE IN ALINDAO, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR)
On 15 November Islamic militants rampaged through the south-central town of Alindao. They looted and torched the Catholic Cathedral and killed the bishop in his residence. They then attacked the Catholic mission camp — home to some 20,000 displaced persons — burning it to the ground. The body of a local priest was found amongst the dead. To date, 48 are confirmed dead. Two weeks earlier, violence by Islamic militants in the north-western town of Batangafo left 20 wounded, while thousands of homes, a market, a chapel and three refugee camps housing 27,000 people were looted and burned. Foreign forces are working to destabilise CAR so they might steal its resources and ‘open the road to radical Islam in the heart of Africa’. Please pray for CAR and its suffering Church.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).