AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - "Apocalypse in Bangui" says Mgr. Aguirre to Fides

Friday, 6 December 2013

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "An apocalyptic day". This is how His Exc. Mgr. Juan José Aguirre Muños, Bishop of Bangassou defines what happened yesterday, December 5th, in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, when the "anti Balaka" militia attacked Seleka rebel positions in the city (see Fides 05/12/2013). "Early in the morning I was at the airport in Bangui when all of a sudden hell broke out: repeated shots were heard", says Mgr. Aguirre. "A family in the neighborhood welcomed me into their home. I stayed there for eight hours while the fighting raged. At four in the afternoon the Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, came to pick me up with an escort of soldiers from the African Mission in Central Africa (MISCA), and led me to the Archbishopric".
It seems that Central Africa risks sinking into an inter-confessional conflict. "Several Muslim shops were looted. Seleka (mostly Muslims, ed.) are killing young Christians in all districts. We counted at least a hundred bodies in the streets. Every parish in the capital is welcoming up to 2000-3000 people. We are looking for food for these people but insecurity makes everything more difficult to obtain".
The Bishop adds that the "men of Seleka fear the arrival of the French and they are trying to cause chaos". The French army, however, has begun to patrol the streets of the capital with the use of helicopters and with the help of the military of MISCA.
In a note sent to Fides by Caritas Internationalis, the Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, said he was "deeply concerned about the crisis in the Central African Republic. The situation is chaotic in Bangui. Many people have been killed". Mgr. Nzapalainga has launched an appeal for "an immediate end to the fighting. Women and children have taken refuge in churches. They have nothing to eat and drink, we give them what we can", added the Archbishop.
According to the note about 10,000 people have taken refuge in the church of San Bernardo and the monastery in the neighborhood of Boy- Rabe, where fighting broke out at dawn yesterday. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 06/12/2013)