By BosNewsLife Africa Service
BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (BosNewsLife)– Christians in civil-war ravaged Central African Republic plunged into grief on Thursday, May 29, after as many as 30 people were feared dead in an attack on a Catholic church in Bangui, the capital.
Muslim gunmen sprayed bullets and hurled grenades at Bangui’s ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ church, home to some 5,000 Christians displaced by violence, church officials and witnesses said.
The priest of the church, Jonas Bekas, initially said at least 11 people were killed in the attack, which began Wednesday, May 29, at around 3.00 p.m. local time, but reporters claimed to have seen dozens of bodies.
Federique Nakombo, the general secretary of the Episcopal commission for peace and justice, said in published remarks that armed men threw grenades into the church compound and opened fire on the crowd, killing priest Paul Emile Nzale.
Earlier there had been clashes between Christian militia and Muslim residents.
On Thursday, May 29, African Union peacekeepers rushed to secure the scene around the Our Lady of Fatima church, as youths set up barricades and burned tyres to protest against the attack.
As dusk fell, reporters saw a helicopter from France’s peacekeeping mission flying low overhead.
Wednesday’s reported massacre was the worst on Christians since Muslim Seleka rebels were ousted from power in January.
‘Anti-balaka’, the term used to refer to religious Christian militias, say they want a state based on Christianity.
However critics say they misuse the Christian faith for profits.
“Their goals are primarily profit-based. They want to take power, gain control over land and the area’s diamond mines and steal the Fula’s livestock,” complained Muriel Masse, project coordinator of Medecins Sans Frontieres, or ‘Doctors without Borders’ a French aid group.
“In the bush, attacks on villages continue, along with massacres of dozens of people,” the official added.
Yet reports suggest that devoted Bible-believing Christians are caught in the middle of an increasingly bloody, sectarian, battle for control over the resources rich, but troubled, nation.