AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - The Catholic missions of Ngaoundaye have been attacked; the bandits fled at the arrival of the Blue Helmets

Thursday, 6 April 2017 missionary institutes   armed groups  

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - Two Catholic missions in Ngaoundaye, a small town in the far northwest of the Central African Republic have been attacked.
"The news that we have is still incomplete", says Fr. Aurelio Gazzera, a Carmelite missionary in Bozoum, to Agenzia Fides. "What is known is that on April 4, a group of former Selaka rebels entered the village, ransacking homes, and the two missions in the area, that of the Capuchin Fathers and that of the Polish religious of the Sisters of Divine Charity of Saint Giovanna Antida Thouret. There seems to have been at least four deaths. Thanks to the intervention of MINUSCA (UN Mission in Central Africa) the militiamen withdrew".
Fr. Gazzera collected the testimony of some Congolese nuns of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy of Savona who were briefly kidnapped by the bandits.
"Some of our mission nuns who were going to the border with a van found the road blocked by thirty armed men, who forced them to follow them as they entered the village of Ngaoundaye. This is a small village which lies at the border of the Central African Republic with Chad and Cameroon, in the extreme northwest of the Country".
"From what we can deduce the bandits plan, made up of ex-Seleka from Paoua, was to plunder the poor assets of the local population and then try to keep the area with its customs, to extort money from traders. Beyond the border in Cameroon, there is a big market and the area is then crossed by incoming and outgoing goods", says the missionary.
"The sisters told me that the bandits were well armed, but were not molested. Their behavior gives the impression of an attempt to test the ground to see what the reactions to their conquest of this important border post are".
Fr. Gazzera stresses that "until substantial forces of MINUSCA peacekeepers and soldiers of the regular army are deployed, the north-west border area will remain in the hands of various armed groups created by former Seleka and their anti-Balaka rivals". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 06/04/2017)