News / Africa

Thousands Flee Bangui After Church Attack

Joseph Bendounga (C), a local opposition leader, speaks to a crowd of people angered by an attack on a church in central Bangui, May 29, 2014.
Joseph Bendounga (C), a local opposition leader, speaks to a crowd of people angered by an attack on a church in central Bangui, May 29, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations refugee agency reports thousands of people have fled a church in the Central African Republic capital in the aftermath of a lethal attack Wednesday.

UNHCR officials say at least 17 internally displaced people were killed and 27 others reportedly abducted by the assailants.
 
Map: Bangui, Central African RepublicMap: Bangui, Central African Republic
x
Map: Bangui, Central African Republic
Map: Bangui, Central African Republic
At the time of the attack, 9,000 internally displaced people were sheltering at Notre Dame de Fatima in Bangui.

The agency describes the attack as one of the worst on any site for Bangui's internally displaced individuals since the Muslim Seleka group was removed from power in January.

"This attack may mark a turning point as, until now, churches, monasteries, and mosques largely have been safe havens for people forced to flee their homes throughout the country," UNHCR spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said, noting that 32 out of 43 sites in Bangui that house the internally displaced are religious institutions.

Lejeune-Kaba said insecurity in the capital has increased drastically since Sunday, with several fatal attacks reported before inter-communal hostilities culminated with Wednesday's attack on Notre Dame de Fatima.

“Those who fled from Notre Dame de Fatima have either moved to the surrounding neighborhoods or southwards towards ten sites in Bangui and the adjacent area of Bimbo," she added. "Many fled without anything — no money, no food, not even a mat to sleep on. Others had bullet wounds that need to be attended to urgently. Compounding their hardship, the overcrowded IDP [internally displaced people] sites they moved face shortages in water, food, shelter and basic healthcare.”

Lejeune-Kaba says violence continues outside the capital, in other parts of C.A.R. She says Muslim ex-Seleka groups were behind bloody clashes that erupted in the town of Bambari last week. Unlike that situation where the identity of the assailants is known, she says nobody knows who attacked the church in Bangui.

She tells VOA that most Muslims have left the country, so Christian anti-Balaka groups, which have been attacking them, have lost their main target.

“What we had noticed then in the change of transit is that the violence still continued within IDP sites by the anti-Balaka on Christians, so it is not religiously motivated, but it seems like they have arms and they use that power over IDPs to get whatever they want," she said. "It is becoming more criminal.”

Most if not all of the civilians in the IDP site near the airport in Bangui are Christians, she said. Despite this, they are being attacked, abused, arbitrarily arrested and abducted for ransom by anti-Balaka elements, she said.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Liu from: Yaoundé
May 30, 2014 8:00 PM
In Bangui everybody knows very well that the attack was conducted by muslim militia pro-seleka living in the armed "enclave" of Km5. They are well known, most of them are not citizen of CAR, but from Chad. They are well protected by the african troops of MISCA and french soldiers of Sangaris. The km5 is like a heaven of criminal militias who has been committed many crimes for more than 6 months. Now the President has finally decided to take control of the Km5, the nest of the criminal muslims militias, we hope that Bangui will be safe soon.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs