Houses have been ransacked and set alight in Christian-majority parts of Central African Republic (CAR) capital Bangui. The bodies of over 30 men and women were left outside a church in the city’s Boulata area in retaliation for the deaths of three Muslims who were ambushed on 27 October in Bangui’s Combatant district.
“Tension in the city is palpable,” a local Christian leader told Barnabas in the immediate wake of the Muslim deaths. Armed Muslims invaded Christian parts of the capital, looting homes and setting them on fire.
The Red Cross were prevented from being able to collect the bodies of the people dumped outside the church. Instead, Muslims dug a mass grave in front of the church and threw the bodies inside.
A church in the Kina area was also torched. “You could see the smoke rising from far off,” wrote another Barnabas contact. “The objective,” he wrote, “continues to be to impoverish the Christians by burning all their homes and property.”
Many Christian families have been forced to sleep in the open, exposed to the elements. “The people have lost everything, and have nowhere to lay their head. They have become wanderers and vagabonds in their own country.”
“The threat of sudden death is on everyone’s mind, given what is going on in CAR far from the media cameras,” he wrote. “We are defenceless, our very lives exposed, and only God can save us.”
Elections were due to have taken place in October, but they were postponed after violence erupted on 26 September and are slated to be held on 13 December. Thousands of people have been killed since Muslim Seleka seized power of the Christian-majority country in 2013. After months of killings, raping, and looting by armed Seleka, militant anti-balaka groups emerged. Despite the fact that they misleadingly call themselves a Christian militia, CAR churches strongly condemn their violent agenda.