Rising numbers of Christians are being killed or driven into hiding by local Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR), reports have warned.
As the Islamist Seleka militants continued to wreak havoc across the stricken country, Christians in the city of Bangassou organised a protest against them on 8 October. However, according to Barnabas Fund, armed Muslims stopped them by force, and ten people were killed in the ensuing violence.
Further attacks on 12 October left four more Christians dead. A local church leader is reported to have said, ‘We are overwhelmed, inundated by thousands of men, women and children seeking refuge from the fighting’.
These are just part of a grim series of attacks on Christians that have followed a coup by the Seleka rebels in March. Rape, murder and machete attacks have become common, and whole villages have been abandoned or destroyed.
Human Rights Watch has confirmed that more than 1000 homes were destroyed between March and June, and more than 400,000 people were displaced.
Earlier this year, the UN declared that the country has descended into a ‘state of anarchy and total disregard for international law’.
CAR’s president, Michel Djotodia, announced on 13 September that the 25,000-strong militia had been dissolved, but many of the fighters have simply been absorbed into the country’s army.
There are now fears that CAR, which is rich in oil, diamonds and uranium, is becoming a failed state. The severe danger faced by its Christian majority has been heightened still further by an influx of other militant Islamists from neighbouring countries.
Sudan is believed to have encouraged the coup. Other terrorist groups from Mali, Libya and Nigeria may also be active on the ground.