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Conflict continues in CAR: Church pastor killed and religious leaders targeted

Thursday, June 22, 2017, 16:58 (IST)

Intense violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has claimed several victims including a church pastor allegedly killed for building a church.

Baptist pastor Ange-Apoléon Ngakolada, 36 is among those killed in a spike of violence in the CAR, and leaves behind eight children.

Ngakolada had been caught up in a controversy with local Muslims about a church he had built, according to World Watch Monitor. The president of the Association of Evangelical Baptist Churches in CAR, Singa Gbadia, said he'd been targeted because local Muslims opposed the church construction.

'The Muslims used the opportunity of the unrest in Alindao to murder him in his home,' a World Watch Monitor source said.

Peace-broker and head of CAR's Evangelical Alliance Rev Nicolas Guérékoyamé-Gbangou has also been targeted, with his nephew and son recently killed.

The town of Alindao has been devastated by the conflict in the CAR, with 25,000 people having been displaced across the country, and 8,500 people just in Alindao. Recent violence has seen at least 37 killed in Alindao.

Violence erupted in the CAR in December 2012, when several rebel groups, mainly Muslim militants, formed a coalition known as Seleka and in 2013 overthrew the CAR's then-president Francois Bozize. In retaliation, several 'anti-balaka' (meaning 'anti-machete') groups formed to combat the rebels. Some militias – predominantly comprising Christians – began attacking Muslims in revenge. Thousands have since been killed in the ensuing conflict.

Rev Aiah Foday-Khabenje, general secretary of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, said he was 'saddened and shocked at the news of this targeted fatal attack on religious leaders, who have demonstrated courage and brought hope to their people in CAR.

'Pray for God's grace and comfort for the family. I cannot understand how a small group of people, in the tiny nation, bent on evil, continue to defy the collective will of the rest of the world for peace, represented by the United Nations. Surely, the UN ought to be a force for good and needs to stand up against the seeming triumph of evil forces around the world.'