Muslim Seleka militants murdered up to 26 Christians on Friday 16 September in an attack on the village of Ndomete, around 220 miles north of the capital Bangui. A government spokesman said “The Seleka went door to door … it was a massacre.”
Christians in the nearby town of Kaga-Bandoro also came under attack: a ministry partner told Barnabas Fund that one church has been forced to move the location of its meetings and “Yesterday [19 September] one of the pastors informed me of the destruction of their Bible training centre in Kaga-Bandoro and looting of houses by the Seleka. Students fled for their lives. Several humanitarian and international NGO centres were also looted … Please keep the Central African Republic in your prayers.”
The Christian-majority country has been plagued by violence since late 2012, when Muslim Seleka militants initiated an uprising against the then president François Bozizé and forced him out of power. They took control of the government and Seleka leader, Michel Djotodia, declared himself to be head of state, although he was later forced to resign in January 2014. A transitional caretaker government took over and has now been replaced by the new government, headed by a Christian president.
The Seleka’s brutal campaign of murder and rape against civilians in 2013 prompted “anti-balaka” armed groups – who misleadingly call themselves Christian militia, despite their actions being condemned by church leaders in the country – to emerge and launch counter-attacks against the Seleka. As a result of international calls to end the cycle of violence, the U.N. Security Council deployed more than 10,000 military personnel as peacekeepers to the Central African Republic in 2014, although the mission has now been extended until November 2017 with the U.N. citing “the continued presence of armed groups … as well as the ongoing violence.” Thousands have been killed since the overthrow of President Bozizé in 2013 and more than 800,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
Christians living in towns and villages in the rebel-controlled central belt of the country are especially vulnerable. They have been repeatedly and viciously targeted and still live in fear of violence despite the presence of international peace keepers; in December 2015, Seleka militants killed eight Christians when they attacked a camp for internally displaced people which was theoretically guarded by the U.N.
Barnabas Fund has been helping the victims of the anti-Christian violence.