15 Christians Dead After Gunfire During Church Service in Africa

By Mei Manuel, May 02, 2018 23:05 PM

The cross (pixabay.com)

On Tuesday, at least 15 Christians - including one Catholic priest - were killed during a church service in Bangui, Central African Republic when several unidentified gunmen suddenly opened fire.

The gunmen suddenly entered Notre Dame de Fatima Church firing on the congregation while it was holding its morning mass and even launched several grenades.

In a statement to Reuters, one of the Church priests Moses Aliou said "Filled with panic, some Christians began to flee until bullets and grenades began to fall in the parish grounds, trapping those who remained in the compound." Most of those who were trapped were able to escape through a hole made by the police on the church walls.

After the horrific attack, it was confirmed by the morgue officials from the Bangui Community Hospital and human rights group Doctors Without Borders that at least 15 died in the attack and 60 were injured. As of press time, it is uncertain as to how many were killed in the church itself and in the chaos that followed. One of the dead was priest Albert Toungoumale Baba. A local witness shared that thousands of angry protesters carried the priest's body, laid it in a stretcher and covered by a sheet, then brought it to the presidential palace.

The attack occurred at the edge of Bangui's PK 5 neighborhood, which was mostly noted as a Muslim neighborhood and currently under a state of chaos. Several clashes have occured within the neighborhood for the past couple of years between the security forces of the region and the criminal gangs based in the area. At least 21 were already killed last month after the latest clash and the church was also attacked in 2014 by gunmen.

CAR has been under conflict since December 2012 when several rebel groups of Muslim militants created a coalition known as the Seleka and overthrew then-president Francois Bozize in 2013. Several anti-balaka or anti-machete groups were then formed to try stopping the rebels, most of them Christians. Thousands have already been killed or displaced because of the violence in the region.

The international community, through the International Criminal Court, has already stressed that the parties involved in the region have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes against the people of the region.

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