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“Reign of terror” against Christians in Central African Republic

Country/Region: Africa, Central African Republic

Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being targeted by Islamist militants who seized control of the country in March; they are being tied up, beaten and forced to hand over money to save their lives.

“Grave violations” are being committed against civilians in CAR
“Grave violations” are being committed against civilians in CAR
CC BY-SA 2.0 / hdptcar

A pastor in CAR said that “a reign of terror” is being conducted against Christians by the Seleka rebels who took over the country in a bloody coup on 24 March. A number of Christians have been killed or wounded.

The church leader said that the rebels have a hit list of pastors and other Christian workers, and that places of worship are being attacked. Christian property is being looted. In one incident towards the end of last month, Seleka troops seized all the collection money given at a gathering of church leaders.  

Many Christians have fled their homes to the countryside and are too fearful to return. More than 200,000 people are internally displaced, while 49,000 refugees have been registered in neighbouring countries.

On 10 May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report citing “grave violations” committed by the Seleka rebels against civilians, including pillage, summary executions, rape and torture.

Among the incidents described was a raid on a church in the capital Bangui. HRW said that this was one of Seleka’s first targets upon entering the city. The rebels fired into the air and robbed the worshippers.

HRW also recounted an attack on a funeral procession on the Ngaragba Bridge in Bangui on 13 April. As Seleka forces opened fire on the crowd, a church leader was killed as he appealed for calm. An eyewitness said:

[He] walked toward the Seleka elements on their pick-up raising a Bible in his hand and calling to stop shooting… [he] was shot dead by two Seleka fighters.

The crisis in CAR has largely slipped under the radar of the world’s media, and the predominantly Christian population feels abandoned by the international community.   

Last week, the United Nations envoy to CAR, Margaret Vogt, urged the Security Council to consider the deployment of a security force to “contain the current state of anarchy” and also the imposition of sanctions on rebels accused of severe rights violations.

She said that there was a “total disregard for international law, as elements of Seleka turn their vengeance against the population”.   

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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Daily prayer

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  • Pray for Barnabas Aid partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 11 hours ago

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

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