AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - A mine explodes as a mission car passes by in Niem: 4 dead, including two children; The Italian missionary unharmed

Friday, 21 April 2023 armed groups   missionaries  

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - On Sunday, April 16, a mine exploded near the car of the Catholic mission of Niem, between the villages of Ndongue Douane and Sokorta, 115 km from Bouar, in the Central African Republic. The provisional toll: 4 dead, including an adult, a boy and 2 children, and some injured.
In the car was Father Arialdo Urbani, an 83-year-old Italian Betharramite missionary. The missionary, who has been working in the village of Niem, in the northwest of the country, since 1986, is doing well.
"This is the second time that the missionary has stumbled upon a mine. It happened only two years ago, also that time a few kilometers from Niem. Also on that occasion, Father Arialdo was unharmed, while a third person, who was in the missionary's jeep, died as a result of the impact", reported the Fathers of Betharram (from the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Bétharram).
According to local authorities, the mine that hit the Niem mission car was placed by rebels from the Coalition des patriotes pour le Changement (CPC), a formation born in December 2020 from the union of six armed groups, under the aegis of former President François Bozizé.
We recall that another Italian missionary, the Carmelite Father Norberto Pozzi, was seriously injured on February 10 in the explosion of a mine placed along the Bozoum-Bocaranga road (see Fides, 13/2/2023).
His conditions, according to his community confrere Fr. Aurelio Gazzera reports, is improving. Father Norberto, whose left foot had been amputated, after his hospitalization in Bologna (see Fides, 24/2/2023), has now been transferred to another clinic in Varazze for the rehabilitation phase. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/4/2023)