Church Attacked in Central African Republic

Priest Among 18 People Killed

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Eighteen people were killed on Wednesday when armed men stormed a parish church in Central African Republic’s capital city.

The men who attacked Our Lady of Fatima parish Church in Bangui were foreign jihadists, speaking neither French nor the local Sango, according to Fides Agency sources.

Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui told the agency that “the attackers shouted in English ‘open the door.’”

A 76-year-old Catholic priest, Father Paul-Emile Nzale, was among those killed in the attack.

Fides sources also report that 42 people had been taken hostage, and their bodies were later found, but the archbishop said he could not confirm this news.

“Some survivors whom I met told me people were taken away, but on their whereabouts voices are contradictory: some say they were killed others affirm they are still alive,” the archbishop said. 

Archbishop Nzapalainga said the attack has increased tension in the capital. “The city is totally paralyzed. Demonstrators calling for the temporary government to resign were dispersed by the army. Tension is high and no one knows what is going to happen.”

He went on to say that, despite acknowledgement from authorities, jihadists from Sudan and Nigeria have infiltrated into the Seleka and are now in the Km 5 district.

Bishop Nestor Desire Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa had earlier told Fides Agency about the presence of foreign jihadists at Km 5 in the capital. 

Central African Republic was thrown into chaos in March 2013 when the rebel coalition Seleka took power in Bangui.

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