CAR: Bishops call for peace as another priest shot dead

A member of the rebel militia group Séléka

The Vicar General of Bambari Diocese, Central African Republic has been shot dead by rebel soldiers.

Father Firmin Gbagoua was killed on Friday evening (29th June) while he was eating dinner.

Reports state that he was shot several times in the stomach at close range by members of the militia calling itself the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC).

Father Gbagoua died later in hospital. He is the third priest to have been killed in the country this year.

In a statement sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Central African Bishops’ Conference (ECSC) spoke of their “great bitterness” upon learning of the assassination of Father Gbagoua.

They went on to strongly condemn the killings of priests which have occurred recently in the Central African Republic.

CAR’s government and MINUSCA are called to bring murders to justice

ECSC stated: “We strongly call on the government and MINUSCA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic] to coordinate their efforts so that those responsible for these murders will be arrested and brought to justice.”

They added: “Who does all this violence against the Catholic Church of Central Africa benefit?”

As tensions have steadily increased in the country, the Church has called for calm and urged Christians not to retaliate against members of the Muslim community – UPC members come from the Islamic Fulani ethnic group.

The UPC, which carried out the murder, is one of the militias groups that were formed following the break up of Séléka in 2014.

As tensions have steadily increased in the country, the Church has called for calm and urged Christians not to retaliate against members of the Muslim community – UPC members come from the Islamic Fulani ethnic group.

“We urge the entire Christian community to remain calm and in prayer so as not… to partition the Central African nation.”

“We urge the entire Christian community to remain calm and in prayer so as not to fall into the trap of those who want to show that Christians and Muslims can no longer live together in order to partition the Central African nation.”

There have been a number of recent outbreaks of violence in the country.

Over the weekend that the killing occurred, there were also reports of fighting between ex-Séléka groups and Anti-balaka militias in the Kaga-Bandoro region.

A number of houses were torched during the skirmishes.